The Council’s annual report, Year in Review 2022/2023, is now available. This report covers the many programs and projects we’ve been working on over the past year, such as oil spill prevention and response, environmental monitoring, oil spill contingency plans, operations at the Valdez Marine Terminal, invasive species monitoring, our outreach efforts, and much more. Highlights from this year include:
An assessment of risks and safety culture at the Valdez Marine Terminal
Ensuring the adequacy of secondary containment liners for the terminal’s crude oil storage tanks
Supporting solutions for sustainable funding for state spill
prevention and response
Improvements to how the Council monitors weather and sea currents in our region
Monitoring oil spill drills and exercises
Reexamining the Council’s position on use of dispersants in our region
With new oil development on the horizon, every effort must be made to ensure the integrity of systems and infrastructure within the Trans Alaska Pipeline System, including the Valdez Marine Terminal.
The issues and recommendations covered by the assessment and report will take some time to address. The Council stands ready to support Alyeska, and state and federal regulatory agencies. As we move forward, the Council plans to conduct outreach within our region to share opportunities, as they arise, to help ensure that the key findings and recommendations in the report are addressed. We must do everything we can to protect our people, communities, economies, and our environment from another major oil spill.
Thinking about the Council’s duties and responsibilities during these challenging times brought to mind comments I heard at a recent Homer community meeting on defining moments. A long-time resident stood up and proceeded to give her thoughts about an endemic problem with modern society. It is the use of the word “the,” instead of the word “our.”
Just sit back and think how the word “the” is used today. The problem, the government, the city, the laws, the regulations, the schools, the responsibility, the resources… I could go on, but you get the point. Consider instead if more people made a conscious choice to use “our” instead. Taking ownership of challenges instills a more dynamic participation in our modern problems.
A small shift with giant results.
The Council was born out of a lack of responsibility on OUR part: industry, government, and public. In 1989, our government and industry were unprepared. While some concerned citizens were trying to raise alarms about the risks of a spill, many folks in our communities were unaware of the danger. The Council was formed to combat the complacency that unfortunately led to the Exxon spill and inform the public about issues that impact the safe transportation of oil through our region, with the goal preventing future spills. We must ensure that the successes we have helped achieve since our formation continue to move forward. This can be extremely challenging in our current environment of budget cuts and staffing reductions within industry and regulatory agencies.
Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final.” The legacy of those that lived through the Exxon spill and fought to form this citizens council carries on in our work today. Their work – now our work – must continue as long as oil flows through the pipeline.
The Council is a voice for the people, communities, and interest groups in the region oiled by the Exxon spill. Those with the most to lose from oil pollution must have a voice in the decisions that can put their livelihoods and communities at risk. Our common goal with industry and regulators is to help maintain and improve safe operation of the Valdez Marine Terminal and associated tankers.
We hope that, years from now, we can look back at actions taken as result of this report release and see that they created another great success in the history of the safe operation of the Valdez Marine Terminal and our spill prevention and response system. We hope this will be another example of citizens, industry, and regulators working together to prevent future oil spills.
After all, we are ALL in this together – to protect our livelihoods, our communities, and our environment.
At its annual Board meeting in Valdez, on May 4-5, 2023, the Board elected officers who will serve from May 2023 to May 2024. All current officers were re-elected into the same positions they held for the previous year.
The elected executive committee is comprised of:
President: Robert Archibald, representing the City of Homer
Vice President: Amanda Bauer, representing the City of Valdez
Treasurer: Wayne Donaldson, representing the City of Kodiak
Secretary: Bob Shavelson, representing the Oil Spill Region Environmental Coalition
Ben Cutrell, representing Chugach Alaska Corporation
Robert Beedle, representing Cordova District Fishermen United
Angela Totemoff, representing the Community of Tatitlek
“The Council believes firmly that our greatest successes result from citizens, industry and regulators working together to maintain and improve our safeguards designed to prepare for and prevent future oil spills,” Robert Archibald said. “It is crucial we not forget the reasons that led to the creation of this organization and continue to work together to maintain the record of safe, efficient transportation of crude oil through our region. I am honored to lead our Board for another year as we work toward our shared goal of protecting our communities, economies and environment.”
The Council is grateful to have the support of its many volunteers from all over the Exxon Valdez oil spill region. The new executive committee is an excellent representation of the Council.
The tentative schedule for the Thursday session is from 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On Friday, the meeting is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The meeting is open to the public, except for executive sessions. Public comments are scheduled to be taken on Thursday starting at 8:40 a.m. Those wishing to speak during public comments are highly encouraged to sign up ahead of time by emailing Jennifer Fleming.
The Council will be conducting regular business during the meeting, including seating of established directors and committee members, election of new board officers, and updates from Council ex-officio members, staff and committees. Other topics included on the agenda are:
An activity report by Alyeska Pipeline Service Company on the Valdez Marine Terminal and Ship Escort/Response Vessel System operations.
A summary by Council staff of changes to Article 4 of 18 AAC 75 oil discharge prevention and contingency plan regulations implemented by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation on February 5, 2023.
A report on research conducted to understand the environmental impacts of the oil spill that occurred at the Valdez Marine Terminal on April 12, 2020.
An overview of Council-commissioned review on the evolution of regulatory requirements affecting the transition of ocean shipping, and tankers in particular, to a sustainable model.
A report on an analysis of Alaska North Slope oil and how the oil properties could influence the effectiveness of oil spill response measures.
A summary of the Council’s monitoring of drills and exercises in 2022.
An update on community outreach activities done by the Council over the past year.
A report from the Council’s legislative monitors and staff on political developments and prospects coming out of Washington, D.C., and Juneau.
Anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, flu, or cold should attend virtually.
The meeting agenda is subject to change before or during the meeting. Council board meetings are routinely recorded and may be disseminated to the public by the Council or by the news media.
Community events on May 3
Join the Council on a cruise (12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.)
On Wednesday afternoon, the Council is sponsoring a 2.5-hour cruise to observe how Alyeska trains their contracted fishing fleet to respond to an oil spill. These local vessels and crews are the backbone of Alyeska’s oil spill response system. Learn how they help Alyeska stay prepared for an oil spill emergency.
The Stan Stephens’ Glacier Spirit will depart at 12:30 p.m. and return around 3 p.m.
Alaska Tanker Company, Hilcorp, and the Council will be co-sponsoring a community reception. The reception will be held outdoors from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Kelsey Municipal Plaza, at 412 Ferry Way (map). In the event of inclement weather, the venue will shift to the Valdez Civic Center located at 110 Clifton Drive.