Contingency plan response deadline extended
Alaska’s Office of Administrative Hearings has granted an extension of the time period within which Alaska’s Division of Spill Prevention and Response must respond to a challenge to the approval of Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.’s new Oil Discharge Prevention and Contingency Plan. The new deadline for responses to the challenge by SPAR or members of the public is Jan. 12.
As previously reported by Petroleum News, Prince William Sound Regional Citizens Advisory Council, Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp, the City of Valdez and Valdez Fisheries Development Association have questioned the new contingency plan, claiming that the plan has unacceptably weakened the standard of protection for the Valdez Duck Flats and the Solomon Gulch Hatchery in Port Valdez near the marine terminal. The organizations have said that the new plan unacceptably extends the time within which protections must be put in place following an oil spill, and weakens the criteria for determining situations in which protections must be implemented.
Alyeska Corporate Communications Director Michelle Egan has told Petroleum News that Alyeska has not weakened its commitment to protect sensitive areas in Port Valdez.
“Over the course of a work group process, Alyeska worked with the state, federal, and other stakeholders to revise a decision-making matrix that is intended to assist initial responders in the early hours of an incident,” Egan wrote in a Dec. 8 email. “The updated matrix is a more effective tool and guides initial responders to make sure they send response resources where they are most needed.”
Egan commented that during the September response to an on-water oil spill at Berth 5 of the terminal, response crews started protecting the hatchery and Duck Flats within six hours of the incident. The response actions were based on conditions specific to this particular incident, including the weather and the tide, Egan said.
- ALAN BAILEY