On December 5, the Council hosted Science Night, an evening to hear about the latest research affecting the safe transportation of oil through Prince William Sound. This annual event is an initiative of the Council’s Scientific Advisory Committee. SAC, as it’s known, ensures Council projects are based on the best scientific practices available.
Results from the Council’s efforts to monitor the long-term environmental impacts of the operation of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company’s Valdez Marine Terminal and associated tankers since the Exxon Valdez oil spill have shown oil contamination in Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Alaska has reached all-time low values. The Council has been conducting environmental monitoring since 1993.
Alyeska and its owner companies have implemented several improvements over the years which have contributed to the reduction of pollutants being discharged. These include the elimination of single-hulled tankers and Alyeska’s ability to effectively operate their Ballast Water Treatment Facility which removes oil contamination from tanker ballast water.
By Lisa Matlock
“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:
By Lisa Matlock, Outreach Coordinator
One of the Council’s federal mandates involves environmental monitoring. With a small staff and vast geographic area, this monitoring takes many forms. Monitoring is often done by staff or contractors, but some monitoring takes place thanks to the Council’s volunteers and interns – all citizen scientists.
Since 2014, the Council has had high school interns in the community of Cordova who help monitor for aquatic invasive species. Three interns, Sarah Hoepfner, Cadi Moffitt, and currently Cori Pegau, have volunteered to hang sturdy plastic “settling plates” in the Cordova harbor each spring, to be picked up in the fall. The interns check the organisms that accumulate on the plate for critters such as invasive tunicates and bryozoans.