Council to meet in Valdez

The Council’s board of directors will meet in Valdez on Thursday and Friday, May 3 and 4, 2018. A draft agenda is now available. Among other topics, the agenda includes presentations on the change in Alyeska Pipeline Service Company’s marine services contract provider from Crowley Marine Services to Edison Chouest Offshore - set to take place July 1, 2018. These services include key oil spill prevention and response assets such as escort tugs, oil recovery barges and associated personnel for service in Prince William Sound. Continue reading

New vessels and barges on their way to Alaska

Major equipment upgrades include state-of-the-art tugs, skimmers, oil-spotting technology, oil response barges

The Commander, pictured here at the shipyard, arrived in early March.

The first new Edison Chouest Offshore, or ECO, tugs to arrive in Prince William Sound are expected to be the Elrington, one of the new general purpose tugs, and the Commander, one of the new tanker escort tugs. They both launched last fall and are traveling north from the Gulf of Mexico, expected to arrive in early March. They will pick up a new, purpose-built oil spill response barge on their way past Portland, Oregon. Update: The first tugs have arrived! ECO is bringing a total of five new escort tugs, four new general purpose tugs, one utility and anchor handling tug, and four response barges to Alaska. As vessels and barges arrive in Prince William Sound, hands-on training and demonstrations with this equipment will start. Continue reading

Safe oil transportation: Are we really so far apart?

Musings from a retired tug engineer

Robert Archibald

Robert Archibald

If you’ve ever owned horses, you probably know that cleaning the barn first thing in the morning is good for the soul. I use that time to think. Recently, before going out to take care of my four-legged friends, I started pondering the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council’s recent resolution, the response from industry, and had a good shovel session to sift through it all. For those who may not be aware, in January the council passed a resolution stating that oil tankers and escort vessels should not be permitted to transit through Prince William Sound and into the Gulf of Alaska in weather conditions which have been determined by industry to be unsafe for training. Some have focused on the differing viewpoints between the council and industry. In truth, we are more in alignment than not. We both want the highest level of safety within the oil spill prevention and response system for Prince William Sound. We agree that crew safety is the first priority. Alyeska Pipeline Service Company has also committed to training new crews to demonstrate tanker escorts in a variety of weather and sea conditions in the Sound. Our resolution is a request for industry to determine their safe limits of training, clearly define them, and then evaluate the need to limit laden tanker transits through Prince William Sound and into the Gulf of Alaska to those same weather conditions. Continue reading

Funds available for educational projects related to our mission

Youth Involvement proposals requested for Fall & Winter 2018/2019 The Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council (PWSRCAC) is inviting proposals for facilitating learning experiences with Exxon Valdez oil spill region youth. Youth in this case can include students from K-12 formal education, homeschool students, informal education programs, and either formal or informal college-level education. In the past, the PWSRCAC has also sponsored projects for teachers that benefit area youth. Projects should result in better understanding of such topics as: citizens’ oversight, environmental impacts of the operation of the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company oil terminal in Valdez and the oil tankers that call there, oil spill prevention and response planning and operation, and/or other topics related to the Council’s mission. Submittal Deadline May 7, 2018 by 9:00 PM Award Announcement July 1, 2018 For more information and instructions on how to submit a proposal, download the full RFP. Past Projects: Past and ongoing projects have included: youth stewardship expeditions into the marine environment via sea kayak and other vessels, youth monitoring for aquatic invasive species, public oil spill science discovery labs, oil spill science and technology outreach, travel funding for marine stewardship programs, oil spill education website development, K-12 oil spill curriculum writing and testing, travel funding for youth presenting oil spill projects at conferences, oral history projects related to the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and other marine stewardship programs for students with an oil spill connection. More information about past projects can be viewed at the PWSRCAC website. Questions? If you have questions about this request for proposals, please contact Outreach Coordinator Lisa Matlock at 907-277-7222.

Protecting Winter Wildlife from Oil Spills

By Lisa Matlock

Steller sea lions are just one species of many found in Prince William Sound during the winter. Photo by Dave Janka.

“What lives here in the winter?” This is a question anyone might ask when visiting Prince William Sound in the off-season. It is also a question recently asked by local organizations in order to better protect these rich waters and their wildlife occupants year-round from oil spills. The Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council worked with the Prince William Sound Science Center in 2016 to complete a biological resource inventory of winter species in the Sound. The goal of this project was to develop a detailed bibliography documenting the presence of all wildlife studied in the Sound during the winter since 1989. This project allows this information to be shared with anyone working or visiting the region. The resulting paper also identifies gaps in knowledge regarding the Sound’s winter species to be filled by future researchers. It provides valuable, scientifically accurate information that can be used by the Council and others to identify sensitive biological resources which informs oil spill contingency plans and helps spill responders and spill drill participants better consider winter species when protecting sensitive areas from harm. To see the list of winter species download the final report: Winter Species in Prince William Sound, Alaska, 1989-2016