Ann Hayward (Rooney Char) Walker began her career working for the Hawaii and Virginia Coastal Zone Programs at the University of Hawaii and Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), College of William and Mary, respectively. Her first project at VIMS was to identify suitable pipeline corridors from the outer continental shelf to Virginia https://www.vims.edu/library/GreyLit/VIMS/sramsoe190vol1.pdf. This work was recognized as one the first studies to identify two sets of siting criteria: Industry areas to avoid and environmental areas to avoid. Her next assignment was to study the effects on the Chesapeake Bay from the transport of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the new import terminal at Cove Point, Maryland in 1978. In the early-mid 1980s, she was on an international team which developed Technical Guidelines for Offshore Oil and Gas Development for the East-West Environment and Policy Institute on the University of Hawaii campus in Honolulu. The team conducted two rounds of training in Australia, Singapore, and Indonesia. In 1986, Ms. Walker also developed and conducted a week-long training program, “Environmental Planning for Offshore Oil and Gas Development,” in Beijing for the China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC).
This early experience in coastal zone planning in Hawaii and Virginia required her to work with multi-disciplinary scientific subject matter experts, learn about industry practices, and consider regulatory implications. She also learned that physical scientists are not the only experts whose knowledge contributes to a more complete understanding of problems in the marine environment and potential solutions when she edited a series of essays written by scholars in the humanities (e.g., philosophy, psychology, art, history, African-American studies, city planning) from universities and institutes in Maryland and Virginia who explored “Ethical Uses of the Chesapeake Bay” from their respective research perspectives https://scholarworks.wm.edu/vimsbooks/1/.
This broad scope of information review and evaluation provided a strong foundation for working collaboratively, which has characterized her work over the last 40 years. Ms. Walker has led a diverse portfolio of projects on such issues as: offshore oil and gas facility siting, liquified natural gas (LNG), sensitive area mapping, dispersants / other alternative response measures (ARMs), response management and Incident Command System, oil spill and LNG risk communications, and defining techniques to promote stakeholder input, audience polling, and a shared understanding on issues of mutual interest.
Ms. Walker served as a science coordinator for NOAA, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. EPA, and industry. She responded to over 250 oil and hazardous materials incidents, including extended on-scene work during oil spills from the Exxon Valdez (1989), Transredes Pipeline on the altiplano in Oruru, Bolivia (1999), and the Deepwater Horizon (2010). Among the assignments on these three spills, she was tasked to evaluate the spill samples for oil exposure and effects on subsistence food safety (including fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and goats, pigs, and sheep in Bolivia), and communication of potential risks. Her responsibilities required her to work with a variety of experts (e.g., toxicologists, epidemiologists, veterinarians and agronomists) to understand and assess the spill situation from scientific, community, and legal perspectives. Through this work, she was exposed to social science research on the human dimensions of oil spills.
In support of Coast Guard decision makers, she has worked with dispersant, chemical countermeasures, and marine in-situ burning decision-making since 1982. Her work with chemical countermeasures was internationally recognized; she was invited in 1999 and 2000 to speak at conferences in Doha, Qatar on “Oil Spill Optional Technologies” and in 2000 in Bahrain on “The Transportation of Liquefied Gas and an Overview of Some Methods Used for Mitigating the Risks.”
From 2003 to 2008, Ms. Walker provided stakeholder coordination and technical support among government regulators, emergency responders, NGOs and citizens in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware for the siting of the proposed Crown Landing LNG import terminal on the Delaware River.
In 2010 in the (aerial) dispersants operations and environmental units at the Louisiana Deepwater Horizon (DWH) incident command post, she was responsible for assessing oil and dispersants and addressing community questions and concerns about dispersants (including human health). In 1995 and 2013, Ms. Walker was lead PI for two dispersant risk communication research projects involving the mental-models approach. She also conducted a 3-day Risk Communications Course for Oil, HAZMAT and Radioactive Materials for the Panama Canal, under contract to the Panama Canal Authority in 2012, and conducted Risk and Crisis Communication Workshops for NOAA’s Disaster Response Center in the Gulf of Mexico in 2015.
Since 2010, Ms. Walker has worked with social, public health and behavioral health scientists to share insights and develop suggestions for strengthening oil spill preparedness and response practices at the community level. She chaired the first public health session at the 2014 International Oil Spill Conference and co-chaired, with Dr. Howard Osofsky (LSU Health Sciences Center), two behavioral health sessions at the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science (GOMOSES) conference in 2016 and 2017. She has published numerous reports and papers involving oil spills, dispersants and risk communications. In 2017, National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) invited her to chair a workshop on “Preparing for a Rapid Response to Major Marine Oil Spills: Protecting and Assessing the Health and Well-Being of Communities.” https://mailchi.mp/nas/rapid_response_workshop_proceedings?e=7fd7af2723
Ms. Walker has a BFA in Architecture and Environmental Planning (UH) and an MBA in Management (GGU). She also attended the American University in Paris and the Universita per Stranieri in Perugia, Italy. She has served as a member of the Program Committee for the International Oil Spill Conference since the late 1980s. Ms. Walker has been an invited conference speaker and has published numerous papers, reports, journal articles, an oil spill community engagement guide for the UK, and a chapter on Oil Spills and Risk Perceptions in the 2017 book, Oil Spill Science and Technology. A partial list of Ms. Walker’s publications can be viewed below:
Ms. Walker resigned from VIMS in April 1983 to found SEA Scientific and Environmental Associates, Inc. (DOA Sea Consulting Group). She remained the sole owner of SEA employing experienced professionals to deliver a variety of services to federal government and industry clients. She dissolved SEA in April 2021 to reduce her responsibilities for a corporation. She continues to work as an independent consultants on projects which align with her particular interests.