An interesting article I came across this morning …
During the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council board meeting in January, we heard a lot about the transition of Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.'s marine services contract to Edison Chouest Offshore.
The services provided under this contract include escort tugs, general purpose tugs, oil recovery storage barges, and personnel, all of which are key oil spill prevention and response assets for the Valdez Marine Terminal and oil tankers operating in Prince William Sound.
Many on the council believe some drills and exercises should be conducted at, or near, “closure limits,” when the weather is severe enough to close Hinchinbrook Entrance, the main access for oil tankers entering the Sound. Currently, closure occurs at the entrance when winds exceed 45 knots or seas exceed 15 feet.
I am thankful to hear this from council members, however I am concerned we are not hearing the same from the people who have the most influence and power to get this accomplished.
While we hear reassurances that indeed there will be drills, and exercises in Alaska, we are also hearing “water is water” and “tugs are tugs.” We have also been told it is not safe to conduct exercises at or near closure conditions.
But how else can we verify the ability of tugs and crews to operate in the heavy weather common in the Sound, especially during the winter months?