Who We Are

The Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council was formed after the Exxon Valdez oil spill to provide a voice for citizens affected by decisions related to the Alyeska pipeline terminal and associated tankers. Learn more: History of the council.

Latest News

Opportunity for public comment: Changes proposed to process for public input on oil spills

UPDATE: THE DEADLINE FOR PUBLIC COMMENT HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO MAY 31.

The Alaska Regional Response Team, made up of state and federal agencies, has proposed changes to the Alaska Federal/State Preparedness Plan for Response to Oil & Hazardous Substance Discharges/Releases, also known as the “Unified Plan,” which guides oil spill cleanup in Alaska. These changes would replace the Regional Stakeholder Committee, or RSC, the forum that has been used since the Exxon Valdez oil spill to communicate with those stakeholders affected by an incident such as an oil spill.

A 30-day public review period for changes to the RSC portion of the language contained in the Unified Plan began on March 25, 2016. Public comments are due by April 29, 2016 May 31, 2016.

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Council conducting organizational review – Request for Proposals

The council is inviting proposals for a project to develop and implement a process to assess the success and effectiveness of its staff, technical and board committee structure.

There have been a number of changes over the years in our board and committee membership, as well as changes in staffing. The council would like to make sure that its board, committee and staff structure and processes are effectively serving us to achieve our mission of “Citizens promoting the environmentally safe operation of the Alyeska terminal and associated tankers.”

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Marine services for Alyeska to change hands in 2018

The tug Tanerliq tethered to the tanker Overseas Washington in 2002.

The tug Tanerliq tethered to the tanker Overseas Washington in 2002. Photo by Stan Jones.

Crowley Marine Services, the contractor who provides oil spill prevention and response services to Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, will no longer provide those services after June 30, 2018.

Crowley has held this contract with Alyeska since the company created its Ship Escort/Response Vessel System, also known as SERVS, after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Crowley also provided tanker docking services since 1977, and helped dock the first tanker at the Valdez terminal.

Crowley owns the powerful tugboats that escort loaded oil tankers through Prince William Sound. The tugs also scout for ice drifting from nearby Columbia Glacier, and are equipped to start cleaning up a spill or tow a disabled tanker if needed. In addition to the escort tugs, Crowley owns response tugs that help the tankers dock and other support vessels and barges stationed in Prince William Sound which contain Alyeska’s boom, skimmers, and other equipment for a quick response to an oil spill.

Crowley employs 230 mariners and 17 administrative personnel in the area.

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Community Corner: A tour of the crown jewel of local oil spill response

By Lisa Matlock
Outreach Coordinator

Lisa Matlock, center, poses with the Seward High School students and teachers in the bow of the Glacier Explorer.

Lisa Matlock, center, poses with the Seward High School students and teachers in the bow of the Glacier Explorer. Scroll down for more photos.

I was a Homer resident for five years. Each spring I watched a fleet of fishing boats carrying noisy, funny-looking machines and pulling long orange and yellow lines around in circles near the Spit. I can remember asking, “What are they doing out there?” The answer was always, “Oh, that’s just SERVS training.” I never learned more than that until my first year with the council when I had the opportunity to observe that training personally.

For two days, I participated in classroom training with a group of fishermen and other mariners about spill safety, oil spill tactics, wildlife protection, and Geographic Response Strategies for sensitive areas. I learned about different types of hydraulic power packs, skimmers, and oil containment boom. Classroom work culminated in an all-day on-water training, with the fleet of local Homer boats out doing what I had only wondered about years before. Not only did I finally understand what the training was, I also learned more about oil spill response in three days than in my weeks of reading at my desk in the office. I decided that everyone in the Exxon Valdez oil spill region could benefit by understanding what their local fishermen and mariners were out there doing each year, and how their community is ready to respond in the case of an oil spill. And the council agrees!

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New plan for using dispersants in Alaska is in effect

The Alaska Regional Response Team, or ARRT, established a new plan earlier this year for how oil spill dispersants, an alternative oil spill response option, would be used during an oil spill. The ARRT is a group of federal and state agencies that share responsibilities for managing oil and chemical spill responses in Alaska.

Mechanical response, such as booms and skimmers that actually remove oil from the water, is the priority response option by state and federal law.

The new plan was effective January 27, 2016, although parts of the plan will not go into effect until 2018.

Details of new plan

The new plan describes two different processes for dispersant use. Dispersants will be “preauthorized” in certain areas, and all other areas are “undesignated.”

A new “preauthorization area” will go into effect in 2018. This area extends from 24 nautical miles offshore out to 200 nautical miles offshore (approximately 27.6 to 230 miles), south of Alaska’s mainland through the Aleutian chain. The ARRT’s rationale is that preauthorizing, or deciding before an oil spill occurs where chemical dispersants are allowed, could speed up response time. In the preauthorized area, dispersants are considered to be approved by government agencies before an oil spill happens. Therefore, the U.S. Coast Guard, as federal on scene coordinator, can decide to apply dispersants to a crude oil spill. Areas farther than 200 nautical miles from shore are international waters, and are not part of this plan.

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