Whittier community engages with on-water oil spill response training

Photo of two of the new Edison Chouest tugs, and an an oil spill response barge who were participating in the training.

Two of the new Edison Chouest tugs and an oil spill support barge participated in the training.

The Council held its fourth annual fishing vessel oil spill response training tour in Whittier, Alaska, on September 25, 2018. The Whittier community was invited to join the council from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m., on a Stan Stephens Cruises vessel to observe the training. Over 60 members of the public participated in the event, including 25 students from Whittier Community School.

Whittier student Abi, 16, stated about the event, “It matters because it keeps our oceans clean and helps keep people knowledgeable about how to respond to the spills. I might want to do it when I get old enough.”

The local fishermen participating in the training are contracted by the Ship Escort/Response Vessel System, also known as SERVS, to respond in the event of a Prince William Sound tanker or Valdez Marine Terminal oil spill. SERVS is Alyeska Pipeline Service Company’s oil spill response organization and coordinates annual oil spill response exercises in multiple Southcentral Alaska communities, including Whittier.

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Council met in Seldovia

Seldovia

The Council held a board meeting in Seldovia on Thursday and Friday, September 20 and 21, 2018.

Topics on the agenda included:

  • Presentations by Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the council regarding the changeover on July 1, 2018, to Edison Chouest Offshore as Alyeska’s marine services contract provider, and ongoing exercises and training. This contract includes key oil spill prevention and response assets such as escort tugs, oil recovery barges and associated personnel for service in Prince William Sound.
  • A presentation by council staff and contractor Nuka Research and Planning detailing the history and legislative intent of the State of Alaska’s Response Planning Standard (RPS), which drives the equipment and personnel resources needed to contain and remove oil discharges within the shortest time possible. The Board accepted the corresponding report.
  • A presentation by council staff reviewing a report on the Valdez Marine Terminal’s water quality data for Board acceptance.
  • The Board reviewed and accepted a report of the council’s monitoring of 2017 drills and exercises.

The Council’s meetings are routinely recorded and may be disseminated to the public by the council or by the news media. Continue reading

Oil spill prevention and response services transition to new contractor

Prince William Sound has a hive of activity this summer. On July 1, Alyeska’s marine services contractor transitioned from Crowley Maritime Corporation to Edison Chouest Offshore.

This transition means all of the escort tugs and much of the spill prevention and response equipment in Prince William Sound are brand new, or new to the Sound.

Demonstrations of the new equipment

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation required that each vessel and crew member demonstrate their capabilities before beginning service. Each tug, as well as each tug’s captain, had to perform a set of maneuvers which differed according to the vessel and its purpose.

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Changes to oil spill contingency plans approved

Extensive amendments due to transition

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation recently approved major amendments to oil spill contingency plans for both the Valdez Marine Terminal and for the tankers that transport oil through Prince William Sound. Both approvals came with conditions.

Neither the tanker plan, nor the terminal plan was due for a renewal. However, Edison Chouest Offshore is bringing so much new equipment and personnel to their new role as Alyeska’s marine services contractor that major changes were needed to both plans. Major amendments require a public comment period.

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