From the Executive Director: Proposed amendment to Alaska’s Response Plan would reduce citizen involvement in spills like Exxon Valdez

The federal and state group that plans oil-spill response and cleanup in Alaska waters has proposed changes that would dismantle a vital tool for public involvement in that process. The group in question is the Alaska Regional Response Team. This group is made up of 15 different federal and state agencies, and is chaired by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency. The Department of Environmental Conservation is the primary representative for the State of Alaska. Changing it as proposed would weaken, not strengthen, oil-spill response in Alaska waters. It’s a bad idea and we urge the Response Team to withdraw the proposal and rework it as needed with help from this citizens organization and other concerned stakeholders. The tool the Response Team wants to dismantle is the Regional Stakeholder Committee. It includes our group and many others with much to lose if Alaskans should suffer another spill on the scale of the Exxon Valdez. The proposed change would replace the Stakeholder Committee with two smaller, weaker groups that would be far less effective, possibly to the point of near-irrelevance. … Continue reading

What is an oil spill contingency plan?

An oil spill contingency plan is a document which contains both: Detailed information on steps to be taken before an oil spill to prevent a spill from happening Detailed instructions describing activities that will be done during and after an accident to clean up an oil spill. What is the Prince William Sound Tanker Oil Spill Contingency Plan? This contingency plan describes the measures Prince William Sound shippers take to try to prevent, or clean up, an oil spill from a tanker. Planning for prevention Preventing an oil spill is the most effective strategy to protect human health and the environment. The tanker contingency plan contains detailed descriptions of the steps and equipment shippers are using to keep oil out of the water. Examples include: A tanker escort system to help rescue a tanker in distress The U.S. Coast Guard’s vessel traffic system that helps guide tankers safely in and out of Prince William Sound Equipment that is in place to prevent oil or other chemicals from discharging into the water Alcohol and drug testing which are required for mariners Maintaining equipment to keep proper function Tankers following speed limits and staying in designated lanes The system may be restricted or closed completely during dangerous weather or when ice is present Thorough training for mariners in the safe use of all equipment. Planning for response … Continue reading

Community Corner: The importance of public comment

By Lisa Matlock Outreach Coordinator The council regularly provides public comment on behalf of our 18 member entities on matters that support our mission of safe oil transportation in Prince William Sound. We are proud of our role as advocates on many technical topics of importance to our local citizenry. … Continue reading

UPDATED JULY 1: Budget cuts threaten spill response equipment in remote Alaska communities

Update: GOOD NEWS! We received word from Lt Nunez with Alaska’s District 17 of the Coast Guard that the Coast Guard headquarters has approved funds to keep the remote spill response equipment caches in Alaska through their next fiscal year (October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2016). Your letters of support helped! He specifically mentioned that the public’s letters of support for the caches really helped convince headquarters that Alaska has different needs than the rest of the country. Original post: In an effort to reduce spending, the U.S. Coast Guard is considering decommissioning caches of oil spill response equipment stationed around Alaska. The caches will be funded through the next fiscal year, however, long-term funding is not secure. The Coast Guard has invited the public to share their thoughts. … Continue reading