Content last updated prior to 2012.
The council routinely sponsors research to determine the impact of oil discharge as a result of the ongoing crude oil industrial activity in Prince William Sound.
This study determined if Neocalanus plumchrus
, a common copepod (tiny shrimp-like animals) in the zooplankton community, accumulates hydrocarbons associated with Alaska North Slope crude. The study quantifies and characterizes polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in N. plumchrus
. This copepod is an important food source for many larger animals such as salmon.
Using plankton tows, the copepods were harvested from several sites in Port Valdez and a control site in Prince William Sound in late April 2004. Direct water samples were also taken in conjunction with the copepod sampling. Particulate and dissolved hydrocarbons were discriminated by direct water sampling.
Although oily ballast water from tankers is treated at the Ballast Water Treatment Facility at the Valdez terminal and discharged into the port, regulations allow a certain amount of oil to remain in the treated water. The study found that at current rates of discharge into Port Valdez, ballast-water effluent likely has little effect on the plankton community and does not pose a significant toxic risk to this copepod species.
Scientific Advisory Committee one-page summary of final 2005 report