Protecting Winter Wildlife from Oil Spills

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: Winter Species in Prince William Sound, Alaska, 1989-2016   … Continue reading

Amendment to industry’s plan for preventing and responding to oil spills approved

One of the major changes incorporates new oleophilic oil skimmers, which will also be on the soon-to-arrive Edison Chouest barges, into the plan. These skimmers, along with the Current Buster booming system, make up a more advanced oil recovery system. The new system allows responders to operate and collect oil for longer periods, as less water is collected requiring less storage. Continue reading

Oil spill contingency plans for Prince William Sound under review

Many changes stemming from transition of marine services contractor to Edison Chouest By Linda Swiss Council Project Manager Updates to two oil spill prevention and response contingency plans are currently underway. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, or ADEC, solicited public comments regarding the changes to the spill prevention and response plans this past summer. The plans are prepared by the operators of Alyeska’s marine terminal and oil tankers and are subject to state approval. These plans specify what operators will do to prevent and clean up oil spills. There are separate plans for spills from the Valdez Marine Terminal and from the tankers that carry oil. Both plans undergo an approval process approximately every five years. With the marine services transition in Prince William Sound, Edison Chouest Offshore’s new equipment means the details in the plans will change, triggering a public review. In 43 pages of formal comments submitted to ADEC in August and September, the Council made a number of recommendations to either maintain the same level of preparedness or improve the proposed plans. … Continue reading