Highlights of recent council activities and news, January 2013

Small leak in loading arm at Valdez Marine Terminal On November 8, Alyeska informed the council that one of four loading arms on Berth 4 at the Valdez Marine Terminal had developed a small leak, characterized as a “weep.” New loading arms on Berth 4 were installed this past summer. In response to council inquiry, Alyeska and regulators told the council that the problem appeared to be from an installation defect. Berth 4 was able to continue operation with the three remaining arms; however, loading was restricted to a lower flow than normal. An Alyeska employee was assigned observe the operational arms to watch for any more weeps. An inspection of the three remaining arms showed similar wear on two of those three arms due to the defect, but not to the extent of the weeping arm. Following a thorough inspection and correction of the installation defect, Berth 4 was placed into service with three of the four loading arms in operation. Permanent repairs of the fourth loading arm is expected to be completed this spring or summer. Berth 5 has a different design and does not have this problem. No oil reached Prince William Sound waters from this leak. Volunteers receive prestigious state travel award Council volunteers Marilynn and Pete Heddell were presented with the “Spirit of Alaska” award by the Alaska Travel Industry Association on Oct 11. This annual award is presented to an individual or business that has demonstrated exceptional efforts to support a local community, charity or other organization outside the travel industry. Association members submit nominations and an awards committee selects a winner. The association cited the Heddells’ commitment to fostering a business friendly environment in Whittier, their public service for numerous organizations and councils in and around Whittier and Prince William Sound, and their mentoring of many local kids through their business. Marilynn has represented the City of Whittier on the council’s board of directors since 1996. Pete has been a member of the council’s Port Operations and Vessel Traffic System committee since 2000. Whales, marine debris, waves and invasive species were topics at council’s annual Science Night event In December, the council hosts Science Night, an annual event with presentations on topics related to marine science in Prince William Sound and Gulf of Alaska. This year saw nearly 70 attendees at the event. Jan Straley of the University of Alaska Southeast gave a talk titled “Weaving Through the Food Web with Whales and Fish (or, The Shenanigans of Recovering Whale Populations). Kate Morse of the Copper River Watershed Project spoke about their Marine Stewardship Expedition program this past summer. During the trip, youth collected and inventoried marine debris in Prince William Sound. Tobias Schwörer, of the Institute of Social and Economic Research, spoke about work for the council studying the economic impacts of marine invasive species. Maria Kartezhnikova talked about the effects of waves on transferring cargo at the Valdez Marine Terminal. Kartezhnikova is a student at the University of Alaska Anchorage and did this study as part of her master’s program. Council volunteer Roger Green and staffers Joe Banta, Anna Carey and Jeremy Robida talked about the council’s efforts to monitor Port Valdez for invasive European green crabs. After off-loading crude oil at a refinery, oil tankers take on ballast water to help stabilize the ship during travel. Invasive species such as green crabs can hitch a ride and invade Prince William Sound when that water is released before the tanker takes on more crude oil. Next year’s Science Night event will be held in early December. … Continue reading