Prince William Sound spill contingency plans under review

By LINDA SWISS
Council Project Manager

The council participates in various workgroups tasked with updating the Prince William Sound Subarea Plan, and recently submitted comments on proposed changes to the plan. The last update to the subarea plan was completed in 2005.

Access to current information is critical in the early hours of spill response. The council recommended that the revised plan contain the most current information on web links; resources such as communications, equipment, facilities and support personnel; sensitive areas; community information; and wildlife impacted.

Read morePrince William Sound spill contingency plans under review

Your input is needed on Prince William Sound oil spill contingency plans!

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, U.S. Coast Guard, and the Environmental Protection Agency are seeking public input for proposed changes to the Prince William Sound Subarea Contingency Plan for Oil and Hazardous Substance Spills and Releases.

These subarea plans supplement the statewide oil spill contingency plan, known as the “Unified Plan,” by concentrating on issues and provisions specific to Prince William Sound. The current plan for Prince William Sound can be found on the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s website.

Read moreYour input is needed on Prince William Sound oil spill contingency plans!

Terminal spill contingency plan review extended

By LINDA SWISS
Council Project Manager

The current Valdez Marine Terminal Oil Discharge Prevention and Contingency Plan, set to expire this past May, has been extended to December 9, 2013.

This plan, created and managed by Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, describes how the company would contain and clean up oil spilled from the terminal in Valdez. The plan is reviewed and updated every five years.

The proposed plan, submitted by Alyeska to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation in October, contained a large number of changes, including being reformatted into four separate volumes. This short-term extension will allow the plan renewal process to continue until the department has conducted a thorough review. The agency has asked Alyeska to provide additional information on several areas of the plan. The council will have an opportunity to provide input to the department during this information-exchange phase.

Once that information is provided, the official public review will proceed. The council expects to submit final comments during the public review.

Review of proposed contingency plan shows some areas improved, others need more detail

By LINDA SWISS
Council project manager

The council has been analyzing proposed changes to the Valdez Marine Terminal Oil Discharge Prevention and Contingency Plan during a recent public review.

This plan, created and managed by Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, describes how the company would contain and clean up oil spilled from the terminal in Valdez.

The current plan is being reformatted into four separate volumes. One of the new volumes describes tactics specific to oil spilled on land. The council applauded creation of this user-friendly manual.

The council also supports the addition of a technical manual which focuses on marine spill response operations. This manual is part of the tanker oil spill contingency plan, which underwent a similar review process in 2012.

The council has expressed concerns that the proposed new plan may not contain enough detail to demonstrate Alyeska’s ability to fully respond to a spill as required by state and federal regulations.

The review was extensive, requiring a page-by-page comparison between the proposed plan and the previous plan. The changes were significant enough to require a separate document explaining why some information was deleted and where that information, if still required, now appears in the plan.

During the first phase of the public review, the council submitted requests for additional information to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the agency in charge of the review process. The council was looking for more information on prevention and response training, facility descriptions, and additional details on preventing a spill.
The council identified several areas of concern, including:

  • Integrity of the secondary containment liners for the terminal’s crude oil storage tanks. The liners serve as a barrier in the event a tank ruptures, and must remain “sufficiently impermeable” according to state regulations. If the liner is considered still in good condition, Alyeska is able to plan for a smaller spill, thus requiring less personnel and equipment for a response.
  • Whether adequate equipment and personnel with the necessary level of training are available to respond to a spill.
  • Lack of details on prevention and response training.
  • Specifics on handling, transporting and disposing of waste generated from a spill, available in the current plan, are not included in the proposed plan.
  • Making sure that enough detail exists on required prevention measures such as leak detection, tank overfill alarms, and inspection schedules.
  • Information that was previously available in the plan such as facility diagrams and maps have been removed.

The plan is reviewed and updated every five years. The last time the plan was renewed was 2008.

The first version of the proposed new plan was submitted by Alyeska to the agency for a “sufficiency review” in October 2012. That review was to determine whether the plan contained sufficient information for the next step of the process, the public review. The agency found that the draft plan needed additional information before being reviewed by the public. Alyeska revised the plan and the agency deemed it satisfactory for review on February 14, 2013.

The council submitted requests for information in March. Once the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation reviews all input from the public, they will determine areas where more detail is needed, and issue requests for more information to Alyeska.

The next step will be for Alyeska to respond to the department.

The current plan expires on May 9, 2013.