The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation recently approved major amendments to oil spill contingency plans for both the Valdez Marine Terminal and for the tankers that transport oil through Prince William Sound. Both approvals came with conditions.
Neither the tanker plan, nor the terminal plan was due for a renewal. However, Edison Chouest Offshore is bringing so much new equipment and personnel to their new role as Alyeska’s marine services contractor that major changes were needed to both plans. Major amendments require a public comment period.
“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:
Council concerned that hard-fought protections would be delayed
In October, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, or ADEC, approved an amendment to Alyeska’s contingency plan for oil spills from the Valdez Marine Terminal.
New oil skimming systems
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.
The Council is looking for experts who are familiar with oil spill contingency planning issues in Alaska. This list identifies and prequalifies technical experts who may be called upon to offer expert advice on the Council’s issues and concerns.