Community Corner: Local government is an important conduit for sharing information and concerns

Matlock and Council volunteers Wayne Donaldson and Trent Dodson at the Kodiak ComFish, an annual commercial fishing conference.

By Lisa Matlock
Outreach Coordinator

The Council’s staff and volunteers have visited with many Southcentral Alaska city councils and managers, tribal councils, borough assemblies, and state legislators this year. The upcoming marine services contract for tug and barge services in Prince William Sound will soon change, and this event alone has driven a great deal of interest in the Council’s mission from communities all over the Exxon Valdez oil spill region. There have also been oil spill planning policy changes that could affect communities, about which the Council has helped share information.

Local government continues to be one of the most important places for the Council to focus on issues that require public comment and scoping. Policy changes regarding community access to decision-makers, a new chemical dispersant use plan for Alaska that includes a preauthorized zone, and upcoming geographical changes to oil spill planning are just a few of the important policies that communities have had the chance to weigh in on this year. Often these issues are technical enough that local RCACs and governments may be a citizen’s ultimate voice for commenting on the issue. Local governments work regularly with permitting issues and zoning that lend themselves to commenting about similar policy changes the Council tackles in the oil spill prevention and response world.

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From the Executive Director: Citizens and partnerships in the safe transportation of oil

Donna Schantz

Donna Schantz is the executive director of the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council.

March 24, 2017, marked the 28th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Each anniversary is a time for reflection on how far we have come, as well as how much there is left to do. It is also a time to recognize the efforts of those who used the lessons of the Exxon Valdez to advocate for safeguards to ensure nothing like it ever happens again. Thanks to the foresight, vigilance, and tireless efforts of elected officials, government regulators, industry, and citizens, the oil spill prevention and response system now in place in Prince William Sound is an example to the rest of the world. A big part of the success in Prince William Sound is that all these partners work together. We all share one goal: to promote the safe transportation of oil. While every partner has played a vital role in the success in Prince William Sound, special recognition is warranted to honor past and current technical committee and board members of the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council. Our volunteers have put in countless unpaid hours dedicated to the mission of our organization.

Congress found that complacency on the part of industry and government personnel responsible for monitoring the operation of the Valdez Marine Terminal and associated oil tanker traffic in Prince William Sound was a major contributing factor to the Exxon Valdez oil spill. To combat this complacency, Congress established two regional citizens’ advisory councils, ours in Prince William Sound and another in Cook Inlet, to involve citizens in an environmental oversight and monitoring. Neither council could satisfy the provisions under this federal mandate without dedicated volunteers from throughout their respective regions.

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From Alyeska: Alyeska staff find creative solutions for safe snow removal

Submitted by Alyeska Corporate Communications.

While spring officially arrived in March, the snow keeps falling in Valdez, the snowiest city in America. The white stuff has long stymied crews at the Valdez Marine Terminal, who often spend weeks clearing snow from areas around the 1,000-acre facility, including crude oil storage tank roofs. It wasn’t always that way.

“When I started here in the mid-nineties, all we had to do was move oil from tank to tank,” said Al Laudert, a Terminal Maintenance Coordinator. “The oil was so warm, enough of it in the tank would make the snow shed right off the top.”

But with declining throughput, the crude oil leaves the North Slope cooler, takes longer to arrive in Valdez, and isn’t warm enough to melt the snow of the tops of the storage tanks. Alyeska has always had a busy snow removal program, but has had to bring in crews for the tank farms since the early 2000s.

The tank top snow removal crews are made up of 7-10 people who can take up to a week to clear off one tank. This shoveling job is quite a bit bigger than your driveway; the roofs are about an acre in area and more than 60 feet off the ground.

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