We trust, but we must also verify, new improvements in system

Thorough training, paired with a robust array of drills and exercises, will produce the safest prevention and response system From the Executive Director, Donna Schantz In most professions, it takes time, training, and on-the job learning to do a job well. A doctor or an electrician may earn a degree, but it can take years to become proficient. They must practice and observe a variety of situations before they are trusted to perform surgery or operate independently with live electrical current. The oil spill prevention and response profession is no different. In this next year, Edison Chouest Offshore will be bringing in new tugs and barges custom-built for Prince William Sound, new equipment, and new personnel, all playing key roles in spill prevention and response for the Valdez Marine Terminal and associated oil tankers. … Continue reading

From the Executive Director: Citizens and partnerships in the safe transportation of oil

Donna Schantz is the executive director of the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council. March 24, 2017, marked the 28th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Each anniversary is a time for reflection on how far we have come, as well as how much there is left to do. It is also a time to recognize the efforts of those who used the lessons of the Exxon Valdez to advocate for safeguards to ensure nothing like it ever happens again. Thanks to the foresight, vigilance, and tireless efforts of elected officials, government regulators, industry, and citizens, the oil spill prevention and response system now in place in Prince William Sound is an example to the rest of the world. A big part of the success in Prince William Sound is that all these partners work together. We all share one goal: to promote the safe transportation of oil. While every partner has played a vital role in the success in Prince William Sound, special recognition is warranted to honor past and current technical committee and board members of the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council. Our volunteers have put in countless unpaid hours dedicated to the mission of our organization. Congress found that complacency on the part of industry and government personnel responsible for monitoring the operation of the Valdez Marine Terminal and associated oil tanker traffic in Prince William Sound was a major contributing factor to the Exxon Valdez oil spill. To combat this complacency, Congress established two regional citizens’ advisory councils, ours in Prince William Sound and another in Cook Inlet, to involve citizens in an environmental oversight and monitoring. Neither council could satisfy the provisions under this federal mandate without dedicated volunteers from throughout their respective regions. … Continue reading

From the Executive Director: Recertification is time for reflection and self-evaluation

In December, the council submitted its application to the U.S. Coast Guard for recertification under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, referred to as “OPA90.” The Act requires the council to reapply yearly for the Coast Guard’s approval as the official citizens’ advisory group to the oil industry in Prince William Sound. Guidelines established in 2002 streamlined the recertification process for two out of three years, with every third year requiring stricter procedures. That process—known as comprehensive recertification—was used this year. The application and supporting documents describe how the council has met its responsibilities under OPA90 over the past few years. We are evaluated on whether we include a broad representation of interests in our membership, maintain open communication with industry and government on a variety of issues, coordinate on scientific work, develop and carry out effective monitoring programs, work to prevent and plan for oil spills, and more. … Continue reading

From the President and Executive Director: Partnerships build trust and help prevent oil spills

By Amanda Bauer, President of the Council’s Board of Directors and Donna Schantz, Executive Director. In 1990, just after the worst oil spill the U.S. had ever seen, Congress was tasked with creating legislation that would prevent such a disaster from happening again. One goal of the resulting legislation, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, was to foster long-term partnership and build trust between industry, government, and local communities. To help accomplish this, the Act mandated regional citizens’ advisory councils to help monitor the oil industry in Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet. Great visionaries began this experiment in building partnership and trust. While some of these people are no longer with us, we still share the vision that motivated them. Today, the council still works to find common ground between citizens, the oil industry, and regulators in order to develop the trust necessary to build and maintain the safest marine transportation system in the world. … Continue reading