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Latest news – The July 2015 edition of The Observer is now online!

Cover of July 2015 Observer newsletterThe July issue of The Observer newsletter is now available! In this issue, read about firefighters from across Alaska learning to fight fires onboard marine vessels, the results of a study to find out if Port Valdez shrimp are contaminated by oil from the terminal, hear some of the lessons long-time volunteer Pete Heddell learned from the Exxon Valdez spill, and much more:

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Firefighters from across Alaska converge on Valdez to learn about marine fire response

By Alan Sorum
Council Project Manager

Unalaska and Valdez firefighters at the Valdez harbor. Photo by Zac Schasteen.

Unalaska and Valdez firefighters at the Valdez harbor. Photo by Zac Schasteen.

A shipboard fire is dreaded by all mariners. When a fire occurs at a dock or a burning ship is brought into port, local fire departments are expected to respond. Since most communities in Alaska are located along a river or the coast, it is prudent to prepare for a vessel related incident.

Techniques used in marine firefighting are quite different than those normally employed in structural fires on land. To better prepare land-based firefighters for such incidents, the council developed the Marine Firefighting Symposium which is held every two years. This past May, the council hosted the eighth edition of this symposium in Valdez.

Thirty-eight firefighters from 14 different Alaska communities, ten marine fire and salvage industry representatives, and fire officials from Alyeska, attended the three-day event.

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Executive committee for next year includes a mix of council experience and new members

During its annual board meeting in Valdez this May, the council board held elections to choose its seven-member executive committee.

Amanda Bauer of Valdez was elected to her third term as president. Thane Miller, who represents Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation on the board, was elected to his third consecutive term as vice-president. Bob Shavelson, who represents the Oil Spill Region Environmental Coalition, was re-elected as secretary. Newly seated Orson Smith of Seward was elected as treasurer.

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Pete Heddell: Exxon Valdez taught many lessons to those who paid attention

Volunteer Spotlight:

Pete Heddell

Pete Heddell

Volunteer Pete Heddell, member of the council’s Port Operations and Vessel Traffic System committee, has seen a lot of changes in Prince William Sound and Alaska.

His parents brought him here at the age of three and a half, just 30 days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, where the family homesteaded outside of Homer on the Kenai Peninsula.

Heddell worked in the fishing business for several years before joining the state police in 1963. After his retirement in 1987, Heddell and his wife Marilynn, started their marine charter service, Honey Charters, out of the port of Whittier.

“We ordered the first of our four boats in the fall of 1987,” Heddell said. He and his wife spent that first summer exploring Prince William Sound.

“In March of 1989, we were on the floor at our first sportsman’s show when we heard the Exxon Valdez had hit Bligh reef.”

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