Mid-Atlantic Scientific Dive Unit
The mission of the EPA Mid-Atlantic Scientific Dive Unit is to provide services to EPA, states and other partners to study, protect and restore healthy waters.
The EPA Mid-Atlantic Scientific Dive Unit consists of scientists, engineers and biologists that are trained and certified to work underwater in support of EPA and partner programs. The team averages over 100 dives a year in conditions ranging from freshwater quarries, lakes and rivers to salt water bays and the open ocean. Often dives are conducted in dark and low visibility conditions. For ocean dives, the team operates from the Ocean Survey Vessel Bold or charter vessels. For dives into the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays, the team uses the Research Vessel Lear. For dives into quarries, lakes, and rivers EPA has several small boats (12 to 18 feet long) that can be used.
Current and past projects include:
- Studies of artificial reefs in Delaware Bay and along the coast
- Studies of hard bottom sponges and worms in Delaware Bay
- Assessment of dump sites
- Location and identification of drums that are in an aquatic environment
- Studies of the infestation of zebra mussels in the Ohio River from Pennsylvania and West Virginia through Kentucky
- Searching for Shuttle Columbia debris (PowerPoint) (29 pp, 3.2MB) in Toledo Bend Reservoir in Texas
- Studies and/or relocation of endangered freshwater mussels in the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers
- FY 2010 Annual Report (PDF) (7 pp, 181K, About PDF)
The Unit has skills in scientific observation and data collection, underwater navigation and searches, video and still photography, benthic and water quality sampling, and diving under low visibility conditions.
Unit equipment includes steel and aluminum dive cylinders from 50 up to 130 cubic feet in size that can be filled with air or enriched oxygen (nitrox) breathing gas, basic scuba regulators, Aga mask that can be used for hard-line or wireless underwater communication, a range of dry and wetsuits, a diver recall system, first aid, trauma, and oxygen kits, backboard, as well as a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).
To be qualified for training as an EPA diver you must have; successfully completed a basic diver training course offered by one of the nationally recognized agencies (e.g. NAUI, PADI, YMCA or approved colleges and universities), completed 25 dives including at least 4 open water dives, passed a physical examination, and passed a first aid, CPR and AED training class. The trainee diver must then complete an intensive week-long class and successfully complete exercises, demonstrate in-water skills and pass a written examination.
Members of the EPA Mid-Atlantic Dive Unit have, at a minimum, the following certifications:
- Basic Open Water, Nitrox, Drysuit, Emergency Oxygen Administration
- CPR/First Aid/AED,
- Diving Accident Management, and
- 40 Hour Hazardous Site Worker.
Dive Masters have a minimum of 100 scientific or working dives and have successfully completed an EPA Dive Master Training Program. All divers must maintain proficiency by passing an annual physical, maintaining certifications and diving regularly.