Latest News & Announcements

The U.S. Coast Guard is seeking public comment on the proposed decommissioning of their oil spill response equipment caches located throughout Alaska

This equipment is pre-positioned in remote areas to help local communities mount an early response to pollution incidents in order to minimize environmental damage.  The justification for their removal is mostly due to the cost of maintaining this equipment because of the remote location of many of the sites.  Another justification is that many of the caches are co-located with other oil spill response equipment owned by private oil spill response organizations or the State of Alaska.  More information on the specific locations of the USCG Alaska-based equipment caches, including a complete inventory of equipment at each location, can be found at:

D17 District Response Advisory Team (DRAT)

The council strongly supports retaining the USCG equipment caches in our region, including Chenega Bay, Cordova, Valdez, Port Graham, Seward, Kodiak, Homer and Kenai.  Equipment caches in locations outside our region are equally important for the same reasons, and span from the Pribilof Islands to Unalaska all the way down to Ketchikan (see U.S. Coast Guard map with specific locations).  Continue reading

EPA wants your comments on proposed changes for using chemical dispersants during oil spills

A vessel sprays water as practice for applying dispersants during an oil spill drill.

A vessel sprays water as practice for applying dispersants during an oil spill drill.

The Environmental Protection Agency is updating the rules for using chemicals, including dispersants, when responding to oil spills in the United States. The update is intended to address the concerns which arose after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. During that disaster, an estimated 210 gallons of oil was spilled, and over 1.8 million gallons of dispersants were applied to the spill.

The EPA is seeking public comments on these proposed changes. The council thinks that this opportunity to comment on these changes is a rare and important event, and we would like to encourage you to add your voice to the public comments.

To help you understand the issues and provide your own comments, the council has prepared an overview of our comments.  Continue reading

Then and Now – 25 years of citizen involvement following the Exxon Valdez oil spill

Then and Now - 25 years of citizen involvement following the Exxon Valdez oil spill - cover

Twenty-six years ago today, the Exxon Valdez struck Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, spilling an estimated 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound. While the immediate cause of the spill lies with the captain and crew, complacency on the part of the oil industry, regulators, and the public played a part in the disaster.

Many improvements have been made since 1989. Regulators, the oil industry, and citizens have all worked together to improve the prevention and response system in the Sound. Among many other improvements:

  • Tankers are all double-hulled
  • Loaded tankers are all escorted by two powerful tugs with response equipment on board
  • Local fishermen are contracted and trained to help respond to an oil spill
  • Oil spill contingency plans containing details on how to prevent and respond to an oil spill are now mandatory

Despite improvements, constant vigilance is still needed to prevent a return of the complacency that allowed the Exxon Valdez spill to happen.

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First known freshwater springs found beneath the face of Columbia Glacier

Researchers working with the council have found what are believed to be the first documented freshwater springs found at the base of a tidewater glacier in Alaska.

Columbia Glacier

Columbia Glacier

This investigation was conducted by the Prince William Sound Science Center in support of ongoing council research focused on Columbia Glacier. Columbia Glacier has historically contributed to several maritime accidents related to the transportation of crude oil through Prince William Sound. The Glacier has been retreating rapidly from its terminal moraine near Heather Island since the early 1980s. Columbia Glacier’s main face is some 11 miles from Heather Island now. Icebergs produced by the glacier routinely cross into marine traffic lanes, posing a risk to crude oil tankers and their support vessels.

“The survey found several small freshwater springs in the bottom of the bay – places where fresh, clear water was seeping out of the bottom and mixing with the cloudier, saltier water of the bay, “ said Dr. Robert Campbell, researcher for the Prince William Sound Science Center.

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