Prince William SOUNDKEEPER®

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Soundkeeper's Log

Updates, Observations & Commentary
  • 08 Sep 2011 11:53 PM | Kate McLaughlin (Administrator)

    The Prince William Sound Regional Citizens Advisory Council contracted for an audit to be performed on the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company's (Alyeska) maintanence management systems, process, proceedures and hardware at the Valdez Marine Terminal (VMT).  An additional audit was also done on how well the terminal was performing under Part Two of the VMT Oil Discharge Prevention and Contingency Plan.

    The report states that the maintenance processes at the VMT are "overly complex," and Alyeska is too reliant on "a very few key individuals" to keep its maintenance systems working.

    "It is the opinion of the Consultants that the real work to maintain and operate the VMT is being done by dedicated workers, not through efficient or effective processes, but in spite of burdensome systems, processes, and procedures," the report says.

    "Evidence suggests that in the case of managing and monitoring maintenance at the VMT, with the exception of a few key individuals ...employees either do not know the processes and procedures, or the processes and procedures are simply too disjointed for them to support the work," the report says. "This complexity results in increased likelihood of errors and inefficient use of employees' time."

    The complete can be found at report: 
    http://pwsrcac.org/brdmtgs/documents/110823.4-3Attachment.pdf

  • 12 Jul 2010 7:36 PM | Kate McLaughlin (Administrator)
    On July 1, I had the privilege of testifying in Washington, DC before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Hearings on the Nomination of Elena Kagan to the United States Supreme Court. I was invited to speak to the committee regarding the impacts of the US Supreme Court decision to overturn the lower court's decision regarding EVOS punitive damages. In my testimony (attached), which was limited to 5 minutes, I briefly touched upon the environmental, cultural, economic and societal impacts. JG Testimony - Kagan Hearings 2010.pdf
      
  • 19 May 2010 7:29 PM | Kate McLaughlin (Administrator)
    Hi folks-
    As you may recall, one of the outcomes of the Whole Truth Campaign was that PWSK member Osa Schultz was invited by Senator Leahy to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Osa's testimony was part of a series of Judiciary Committee hearings on the impacts on ordinary citizens of recent decisions by the US Supreme Court.

    Senator Leahy has co-sponsored a bill to overturn the court's decision that  set a precedent of limiting compensatory to punitive damages to 1:1. Here is a brief synopsis of the bill, and a link to the actual legislation.

    The Big Oil Polluter Pays Act, which is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), would overturn the 2008 Supreme Court case, Exxon Shipping Co. vs. Baker, which slashed Exxon Mobil Corporation's punitive damages for the Exxon Valdez Spill. In that case, the Supreme Court held that unless Congress spoke, punitive damages under maritime law had to be limited to the amount of compensatory damages assessed in a case (the damages assessed to make victims whole). This legislation would allow judges and juries to assess punitive damages based on all facts in a case, without regard to the amount of other damages owed.

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:S.3345:
  • 11 May 2010 9:29 PM | Kate McLaughlin (Administrator)
    David Janka took this photos on the 3rd-5th of this month - May 2010. This is residual 1989 ExxonValdez oil in beach sediments in Prince William Sound. As you can see from the photos, this oil is located on or close to the beach surface. However, significant residual oil is also present in the substrate where is is less apparent to the casual observer. CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL PHOTOS:
    2010 oil photos pdf.pdf 
  • 10 May 2010 8:42 PM | Kate McLaughlin (Administrator)

    Our colleague, Casi Calloway, Mobile Baykeeper, was able to flyover with the BBC thanks to help from a Caplan Communications and the People Matter Foundation. 

    They were given unique permission to fly at 1,000 feet and as a result, these photos really illustrate the extent of oil and how it is threaded throughout the ocean. 



     

  • 10 May 2010 8:40 PM | Kate McLaughlin (Administrator)

    Here is a brief summary of the discussion with Mobile Baykeeper on Sunday:

    "Oil landed yesterday, sheen and tar balls on Dauphin Island; booming plan is strange – some areas double boomed, others are boomed on north side not gulf side, still others are not boomed at all – perhaps ACP is designed for a spill originating on land not in the Gulf; hasn’t been able to see a boom plan; will contact Ed directly for sensitive area maps; fishing grounds are open (as of Saturday) in Alabama, definitely open in Mississippi; concerns about dispersants, air quality, human health."

  • 10 May 2010 8:05 PM | Kate McLaughlin (Administrator)
    PWSK is working with Waterkeepers across the United States to support our colleagues on the front lines of the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Last week Waterkeeper Alliance deployed additional staff to the Gulf Coast region and we established four teams who meet daily via conference call beginning at 8 AM Alaska time. The teams are 1) Waterkeeper Command 2) Waterkeeper Technical Support 3) Waterkeeper Communications and most importantly, 4) Gulf Coast Waterkeeper Organizations . 

    Tapping into the extensive spill expertise among Waterkeeper organizations (WKO's), the Command team is a central group that works to strategize and advise all teams. Key team members with specific spill expertise include the San Francisco Baykeeper, NY/NJ Baykeeper, Casco Baykeeper, Cook Inletkeeper and Prince William Soundkeeper. Our colleagues on the front lines include Louisiana’s Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper, Louisiana Bayoukeeper, Alabama’s Mobile Baykeeper, and Florida’s Emerald Coastkeeper.

    All teams work to support Gulf Coast Waterkeepers to ensure that:
    1) fishermen and the public are informed regarding the human health issues and impacts of HAZMATs,
    2) the Waterkeeper's local watershed knowledge and data, established over years of work, is available to Incident Command,
    3) there is public oversight and transparency; and
    4) environmental, economic and social impacts are documented and reported.

    On April 20, BP's oil drilling rig "Deepwater Horizon" was in the final phases of drilling a well off the coast of Louisiana when an explosion occurred on the rig and it caught fire.  The rig burned and sank on April 22, leaving 11 dead and an open well on the ocean floor in water approximately 5,000 feet deep. 

    More than a spill, this disaster has left crude oil gushing from the sea floor in what is now feared to be the worst oil spill disaster in U.S. history. First estimates of 42,000 gallons a day were soon revised to 210,000 gallons a day, and on May 4, BP officials said the spill rate could be as much as 2.5 million gallons (60,000 barrels) a day.  At this rate of flow, the spill would surpass the amount leaked from the Exxon Valdez in a bit more than four days. That 1989 spill dumped 11 million gallons into Prince William Sound.

    Fishing has been banned in much of the Gulf as the bodies of endangered sea turtles wash up onshore, while people of the Gulf coast wait for oil to reach the shores. The ecological and economic disaster can only be imagined as it remains unknown when the flow can be stopped.

    Concerns about Halliburton’s cementing process on the “Deepwater Horizon”—and about whether rigs have enough safeguards to prevent blowouts—raise questions about whether the industry can safely drill in deep water and whether regulators are up to the task of monitoring them.

    BP and TransOcean have aggressively opposed new safety regulations proposed last year by a federal agency that oversees offshore drilling in response to a study that found many accidents in the industry. The leaking oil well lacked safety devices, required in European waters, that could have capped this well when disaster struck and should be required in the U.S.

    Attempts to stop the flow have included the use of chemical dispersants, many of which contain toxins that may cause additional impacts while having questionable effects on the oil slick.
  • 19 Apr 2010 8:26 PM | Kate McLaughlin (Administrator)
    link to interview: http://audio.kchu.org/2010/04/19/pws-fishing-vessel-owners-threaten-to-stand-down.aspx
    Summary:
    When the operator of the trans-Alaska pipeline and Valdez tanker port reported a shortfall in the Prince William Sound-based part of its fishing vessel response fleet earlier this year, some insiders said the biggest single issue driving the decline in participation in the program was a set of long-standing concerns with their contract. Now some vessel owners--feeling those concerns have not been sufficiently addressed--have set a deadline of the end of the month to resolve issues including compensation and insurance, after which they say they are prepared to stand down. Alyeska invited representatives from various response fleets for a meeting in Anchorage Monday (April 19), during which the fishermen hoped to be able to resolve the matter before the Alyeska/SERVS Spring Oil Spill Response Training later this month in Cordova. KCHU's Erik Wander has more: 
  • 19 Apr 2010 8:17 PM | Kate McLaughlin (Administrator)
    In follow up to our ongoing work to protect laws governing the cruise ship industry in Alaska that resulted from a 2006 Alaska voter initiative, I testified before the House Finance Committee on Thursday, April 15 on HB312 - an effort by the cruise industry to take another wack at the voter initiative. Here is a link to brief article regarding the House bill.
    http://ap.juneauempire.com/pstories/state/ak/20100417/611183749.shtml
  • 04 Apr 2010 5:35 PM | Kate McLaughlin (Administrator)
    Law school students nationwide are facing growing attacks in the courts and legislatures as legal clinics at the schools increasingly take on powerful interests that few other nonprofit groups have the resources to challenge.

    And legal experts say the attacks jeopardize the work of the clinics, which not only train students with hands-on courtroom experience at more than 200 law schools but also have taken on more cases against companies and government agencies in recent years.

    Read the article here:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/04/us/04lawschool.html
Prince William Soundkeeper, PO Box 1368, Cordova, Alaska, 99574  tel: 907-424-5701 www.pwsoundkeeper.org  a 501c(3) non-profit organization.
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