Workshop: Tsunami hazards guidance for vessel operators

The Council is partnering with the City of Valdez to hold a workshop to further our understanding of the risks posed to vessel operators by tsunamis, including those generated by landslides.

Participants will represent a diversity of vessel operators, emergency managers, and researchers studying the subject. A portion of this workshop will take place with Stan Stephens Cruises, traveling through Prince William Sound, with a visit to the world-famous Columbia Glacier.

Based on workshop results, we will develop a report detailing preliminary guidance for vessel operators facing the threat of a tsunami and a list of research topics that could improve future guidance. The proposed guidance will be designed to be applicable in Prince William Sound and similar areas that have complex steep shorelines, and which face the potential of landslide-generated tsunamis.

This workshop will be held in Valdez on June 3rd and 4th, 2024.

Registration will be opening soon. For more information and/or notification when registration opens, please email Nelli Vanderburg.

About the Exxon Valdez oil spill

Exxon Valdez tanker leaking oil in Prince William Sound, April 13, 1989. Photo by Charles N. Ehler. Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Collection, ARLIS. ARLIS’ EVOS photos

On March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on a charted rock, Bligh Reef, in Prince William Sound. The grounding occurred after the vessel left the designated tanker lanes to avoid icebergs reported to be in the area.

The tanker spilled an estimated 11 million gallons (257,000 barrels) of Alaska North Slope crude oil, enough to fill 17 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Below are some of our recommended resources on the history of the spill.

What happened?

The executive summary of the Alaska Oil Spill Commission’s Final Report “Spill, the Wreck of the Exxon Valdez” has a synopsis of the incident and their investigation, which includes details about what went wrong. See also: Full report and appendices (Alaska Resources Library & Information Services (ARLIS) website)

Stats and FAQs:

The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council (EVOSTC):

The Alaska Resources Library & Information Services (ARLIS) has an extensive collection, including some unique resources such as trial transcripts and audio recordings:

Photo collections:

Lessons learned:

Then & Now: 35 Years After the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill – This report reviews both what changes have been made since the spill and what’s left to improve.

The Spill: Personal Stories from the Exxon Valdez Disaster – This book features interviews with over 60 people who experienced the spill first-hand. They include Alaska citizens; government agency personnel involved with the spill and cleanup; elected officials who dealt with the spill; and oil industry personnel involved in the spill and cleanup. Contact the Council for a free copy:


History of Alaska’s Oil Spill Response Planning Standard – This report documents the history and intent behind Alaska’s standard for spill response plans.

History of the oil spill prevention and contingency plan in Prince William Sound – This report details how planning has improved since 1989, describes contentious issues and how they were resolved, notes significant trends, and documents remaining issues. The report also documents changes to the regulations and how regulations have been interpreted at different times.

Exxon Valdez Project Jukebox – The Council worked with the University of Alaska Fairbanks to archive this collection of audio and video interviews of people who experienced the spill firsthand. (UAF website)

Stories from a Citizens’ Council – This publication contains personal reflections on the formation and early years of the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council.

More questions?

We are happy to help find additional information, please contact us:

General questions and requests:

Media requests: Please contact the Council’s Director of Communications.

Educators: Please check out the Council’s Alaska Oil Spill Lesson Bank (free lesson plans for hands-on learning which meet applicable NGSS) or email the Council’s Outreach Coordinator.

Board of Directors met in Anchorage

The Council held a Board meeting in Anchorage on Thursday and Friday, January 25-26, 2024.

The Council conducted regular business during the meeting, including updates from Council ex officio members, staff and committees. Other topics included on the agenda were:

  • An activity report by Alyeska Pipeline Service Company on the Valdez Marine Terminal and Ship Escort Response Vessel System operations, including an update on Alyeska’s efforts to address concerns identified in the Council’s report “Assessment of Risks and Safety Culture at the Valdez Marine Terminal.”
  • A presentation from Alaska Tanker Company on upgrades and changes to their Alaska fleet.
  • Introduction and discussions with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Designee, Emma Pokon.
  • A report on the results from the Council’s Long-Term Environmental Monitoring Program, now in its 30th year, analyzing mussels, marine sediment and passive sampling devices to monitor oil contamination associated with operation of the Valdez Marine Terminal and associated tankers.
  • A briefing from Council staff on the renewal of Alyeska’s Valdez Marine Terminal Oil Discharge Prevention and Contingency Plan, including comments submitted by the Council to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation in December 2023.
  • A presentation on the recent Hope Spot designation for Prince William Sound by the Prince William Sound Stewardship Foundation.
  • A presentation on the Shepard Point Marine Tribal Transportation Oil Spill and Marine Casualty Response Facility by the Native Village of Eyak.
  • Consideration by the Council to create a designated recreation seat on the Board and appointment of a new director to fill the seat, should it be approved.

Council Board meetings are routinely recorded and may be disseminated to the public by the Council or by the news media.

Science Night 2023 – Videos now available

Systems and Methods: Connecting across the Exxon Valdez oil spill region

Science Night is an annual event hosted by the Prince William Regional Citizens Advisory Council. Topics focus on research related to the safe transportation of oil through Prince William Sound.

Individual presentations can be viewed below, or you can view the full playlist directly on the Council’s Youtube Channel: Science Night 2023

On this page:

  1. Let the Hydrocarbons in Prince William Sound Talk
  2. Forage Fish Update
  3. Tsumani/landslide hazards in Prince William Sound
  4. Alaska Spill Response Wildlife Aid

Let the Hydrocarbons in Prince William Sound Talk: 30 years of Environmental Monitoring through PWSRCAC’s LTEMP

Presenter: Dr. Morgan Bender, Senior Scientist, Owl Ridge Natural Resource Consultants, Inc.

The PWSRCAC’s Long-Term Environmental Monitoring Program (LTEMP) is one of the longest-standing hydrocarbon assessment programs of its kind and provides us with annual data on how and where hydrocarbons enter Prince William Sound and the potential effects they may have on the marine ecosystem. Morgan, an Alaska-based ecotoxicologist, will lead us through the 30-year LTEMP investigative process and major findings to inform and excite Science Night participants on LTEMP’s past, present, and future.

View Let the Hydrocarbons in Prince William Sound Talk directly on YouTube.

Forage Fish Update

Presenter: Scott Pegau, Research Program Manager, Oil Spill Recovery Institute

Forage fish provide a critical link between plankton and large predators like birds, mammals, and other fish. Pacific herring, sand lance, capelin, and juvenile pollock are a few of the many forage fish in PWS. Most of the information we have on forage fish is associated with herring because of its historic commercial importance but there is some information on other species. This presentation takes a look at some of the existing research into forage fish in Prince William Sound.

View Forage Fish Update directly on YouTube.

Advancing our understanding of tsunamigenic landslide hazards in Prince William Sound, Alaska

Presenter: Dennis M. Staley, Research Physical Scientist, U.S. Geological Survey – Alaska Volcano Observatory

Exposure to landslide and tsunami hazards are a part of life for those who reside in the seaside communities of coastal Alaska and the people who work or recreate in coastal waterways. Recently, the recognition of the landslide-generated tsunami hazard posed by the Barry Arm landslide in northwestern Prince William Sound has attracted considerable attention in the public and media, at local, state, and federal governments, and in the scientific community. This presentation focuses on the ongoing effort to assess hazard and warn for a tsunami produced by the Barry Arm landslide, and on scientific investigations into the prevalence of this type of natural hazard at other locations in Prince William Sound.

View Advancing our understanding of tsunamigenic landslide hazards in Prince William Sound directly on YouTube.

Alaska Spill Response Wildlife Aid

Presenter: Bridget Crokus, Deputy Oil Spill Response Coordinator, USFWS Alaska Region

Protecting fish, wildlife, and their habitats is a primary response objective after an oil spill. First-hand accounts of wildlife in or near an oil spill are invaluable to a successful wildlife response. Bridget will present the Alaska Spill Response Wildlife ID Aid, a tool developed to help spill responders “take a wildlife minute” and record the wildlife they see.

View Alaska Spill Response Wildlife Aid directly on YouTube.

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