Council and partners plan test of spill surrogate for response training

By Jeremy Robida
Council Project Manager

A group of oil spill preparedness planners in Prince William Sound are working together to develop an improved method of training for oil spills. The council has been working for many years to find a suitable oil “surrogate” for spill response training. Surrogates are floating substances such as wood chips, peat moss, or other materials that would mimic an oil slick and have similar interactions with currents, tides, and winds, without harming the environment. A surrogate would provide a target for responders during training and exercises; something which physically interacts with boom and equipment and acts as a visual aid to help responders increase proficiency with gear and tactics.

Federal policies do not provide guidance for surrogates. Instead, local solutions are encouraged which can be tailored to fit each region’s particular environmental concerns.

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Opportunity for public comment: Changes proposed to process for public input on oil spills

The Alaska Regional Response Team, made up of state and federal agencies, recently proposed changes to the Alaska Federal/State Preparedness Plan for Response to Oil & Hazardous Substance Discharges/Releases, also known as the “Unified Plan,” which guides oil spill cleanup in Alaska. These changes would replace the Regional Stakeholder Committee, or RSC, the forum that has been used since the Exxon Valdez oil spill to communicate with those stakeholders affected by an incident such as an oil spill.

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Oil spill drills teach lesson in prevention

By ROY ROBERTSON
Drill Monitor

Two large oil spill drills were conducted in Prince William Sound this past September and October. Both exercises proved challenging for the organizations participating in them.

SeaRiver Maritime held a three-day exercise in the middle of September. For this annual drill, the role of the “spiller” alternates among the shipping companies that move oil through Prince William Sound.

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Oil spill response training focuses on nearshore and sensitive area protection

By JEREMY ROBIDA
Council Project Manager

On March 15 and 16, Alyeska’s Ship Escort Response Vessel System, known as SERVS, conducted an oil spill response training in Cordova.

A total of 27 vessels were involved, including Cordova-based vessels, three Valdez fishing vessels, the nearshore support barge known as the “500-2,” and its accompanying tug. Many of the vessels spent the night on scene as part of the training, with exercise activities taking place during daylight hours in Nelson Bay, a small, protected bay approximately five miles from Cordova.

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