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.

Amanda Bauer
Donna Schantz

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.

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Marine services for Alyeska to change hands in 2018

The tug Tanerliq tethered to the tanker Overseas Washington in 2002.
The tug Tanerliq tethered to the tanker Overseas Washington in 2002. Photo by Stan Jones.

Update: This article ran in the May issue of our newsletter, The Observer, stay tuned for updates in the next issue!

Crowley Marine Services, the contractor who provides oil spill prevention and response services to Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, will no longer provide those services after June 30, 2018.

Crowley has held this contract with Alyeska since the company created its Ship Escort/Response Vessel System, also known as SERVS, after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Crowley also provided tanker docking services since 1977, and helped dock the first tanker at the Valdez terminal.

Crowley owns the powerful tugboats that escort loaded oil tankers through Prince William Sound. The tugs also scout for ice drifting from nearby Columbia Glacier, and are equipped to start cleaning up a spill or tow a disabled tanker if needed. In addition to the escort tugs, Crowley owns response tugs that help the tankers dock and other support vessels and barges stationed in Prince William Sound which contain Alyeska’s boom, skimmers, and other equipment for a quick response to an oil spill.

Crowley employs 230 mariners and 17 administrative personnel in the area.

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Researchers say ice drifting into tanker lanes will be smaller but more numerous in future

By Alan Sorum
Council Project Manager

Columbia Glacier Retreat, 1980-2015
Click map for larger image.

Columbia Glacier, located in the Chugach Mountains of Alaska, is losing mass faster than almost any other glacier in the state. Columbia is a tidewater glacier, a type of valley glacier that flows into the ocean.

In 1996, the council began a project to monitor and analyze the calving and drift of ice from the glacier, through Columbia Bay, and into Prince William Sound. The ice sometimes drifts into the established tanker shipping lanes. Loaded tankers leave their designated lanes to avoid this ice.

In 2012, the council began to update information developed in the original 1996 project to determine the future risk of Columbia Glacier icebergs to the tanker traffic. Funded by the council, researchers W. Tad Pfeffer and Shad O’Neel studied several aspects of ice loss at Columbia Glacier.

The study found that icebergs discharged by the glacier during the retreat have largely been contained within the moraine shoal, located at the position of the terminus prior to the glacier’s retreat. The fraction of icebergs that cross the moraine and enter Prince William Sound proper still pose a potential hazard to ship traffic in the Sound.

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New regulations mean cleaner air in Prince William Sound

By Austin Love
Council Project Manager

Crude oil tankers in Prince William Sound are using cleaner fuel than they were just a few years ago. New regulations, created by the International Maritime Organization, aim to improve air quality by limiting pollutants emitted from large ships. The regulations target three air pollutants produced by internal combustion engines and released in vessel exhaust: sulfur oxides, particulate matter, and nitrogen oxides.

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