HOW DO NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS PREPARE FOR AND RESPOND TO AN OIL SPILL?
In addition to governmental agencies, there are many institutions preparing to respond to potential oil spills. In Alaska, these non-governmental organizations take up roles or bolster roles unfulfilled by federal agencies. Some aid in the mobilization and training of response teams. Some study Arctic conditions and species to form a baseline of data that would help model the effects of an oil spill in varying conditions. Others are prepared to rescue and rehabilitate marine animals in the event of a spill.
In this lesson, we will focus on two organizations involved with oil spill response in two very different ways:
1. The Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC): The ASLC Wildlife Response Program is an important part of the Center's commitment to generate and share scientific knowledge to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s marine ecosystem. The main goal of the Wildlife Response Program is to learn from live and dead stranded animals to better understand wild populations and maintain capacity to respond to natural or manmade disasters. The program responds to live and dead marine wildlife that has been abandoned, stranded, or injured throughout Alaska. The ASLC is the only institution authorized to rehabilitate live stranded marine mammals in the state. They operate under permits and agreements issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). ASLC plays a critical role in responding to oil spills or other unusual events. In addition to covering the live animal response and care during the ‘busy’ season, May to September, ASLC trains partners for disaster response, and remains ready year-round to provide basic animal care for oil-affected animals and to deploy a mobile treatment and rehabilitation enclosure. In addition, the ASLC’s Science Program is involved in a number of research networks that monitor the health of local ecosystems. ASLC researchers also study the impacts of hydrocarbons and changing environments on a number of marine species. To learn more about the Alaska SeaLife Center and its programs, visit www.alaskasealife.org
2. Alaska Clean Seas (ACS): ACS is a not-for-profit cooperative that provides training and equipment for oil spill response on the North Slope and Alaska's outer continental shelf. The members who join ACS are companies who want to transport, produce or explore for oil in these Arctic areas. Some ACS staff work onsite with the oil companies to provide immediate response to spills. This not-for-profit maintains large quantities of equipment including booms, barges, storage tanks, skimmers, aerial ignition systems for in-situ burning, wildlife stabilization supplies, communications equipment and more. This equipment is available to member companies in the event of a spill. They also coordinate trainings that provide personnel with skills specific to cleaning up oil in ice.
PHOTO CREDIT: Alaska SeaLife Center. Oiled wildlife response workshop at the Alaska SeaLife Center.
Non-governmental organizations play a key role in working with federal and state agencies to provide a greater capacity to respond to future spills and to research Arctic conditions and wildlife.
Alaska SeaLife Center: Rehabilitation Program
Visit the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) website. The link here will take you to the Rehab section of the website. Read more about the Rehabilitation Program and some of the most recent patients.
Alaska Clean Seas
There is an oil spill response cooperative through Alaska Clean Seas (ACS). ACS organizes, trains and equips responders in the case of an oil spill. Learn more about the organization starting with their home page linked here.
Alaska Clean Seas Yearbook (2014)
The ACS Yearbook provides information on the structure of their non-profit, their members, their equipment, their training and some general summaries of work they have done in the last few years. On pages 46-55 of the yearbook, ACS provides images of the variety of equipment that they use.
Alaska Clean Seas Technical Manual
Alaska Clean Seas (ACS) produces a Technical Manual with tactics and maps that provide member companies with an organized plan of response to onshore and offshore spill incidents on the North Slope. Look at the Tactics part of the manual (Volume 1) to read about different tactical plans, like in-situ burning or detection of oil under ice. Look at the Atlas part of the manual (Volume 2) to see maps of different regions of the North Slope that mark points of sensitivity, water flow, logistical points for landing and more. Get a sense of the extent of preparedness for a spill and how a response effort could be enacted on the North Slope.
IPIECA and Oil Spill Preparedness
IPIECA is an international not-for-profit association of companies interested in oil and gas exploration and/or production. The organization focuses on environmental and social issues involved with oil and gas production. One specific area of interest for IPIECA is oil spill preparedness. The Oil Spill Working Group tries to promote the sharing of technology and techniques between member companies and to coordinate industry and government activities. To learn more about IPIECA and its efforts toward global oil spill preparedness, visit their website.