Ecological Risk Assessment: Consensus Workshop. Environmental Tradeoffs Associated With Oil Spill Response Technologies. Northwest Arctic Alaska.
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AbstractIn October/November 2011, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) Sector Anchorage hosted a workshop to evaluate the relative risk to natural resources from various oil spill response-options. These options included no response (natural recovery), on-water mechanical recovery, in-situ burning, dispersant application, shoreline protection and shoreline recovery. The workshop involved participants from local, borough, tribal, state and Federal agencies and was designed to emphasize cooperative decision-making if a spill were to threaten resources in the Northwest Arctic Alaska. The workshop consisted of one 3-day session and one 2-day session separated by approximately four weeks. The spill scenario designed by the Steering Committee involved the release of 400,000 gallons of IFO 180 fuel from a fuel carrier grounded near Little Diomede Island, AK on 7-8 August 2011 . The release was treated with dispersant via aircraft sorties on the second day of the release, targeting the spill's leading edge. The modeled effectiveness of the dispersant application was forty percent. Participants, divided into four focus groups, evaluated the relative risks and benefits of the response options during the October session. The groups completed analysis for natural recovery, on-water mechanical recovery, and in-situ burning options, and began the analysis for dispersant application. At the November session, initial participant attendance declined due to travel constraints. However, several new members participated. During the second session, all participants reviewed the ranking process and evaluated the remaining alternatives (dispersant application, shoreline protection, and shoreline removal). Following evaluation of all response options, the participants concluded that the location of the spill could potentially increase the risks to shoreline and shallow water habitats, historic properties, and subsistence use. All four groups viewed shoreline protection as having the greatest benefit by reducing the impact on the lagoons and marshes. Shoreline mechanical recovery was perceived as beneficial to some habitats such as upland, tidal marsh, tidal flats and fine/medium sand beach areas, but has the potential to damage those areas during the removal process. On-water mechanical recovery and in-situ burning were viewed as providing limited benefit. The use of dispersants raised serious concerns among all four groups. Two groups did not evaluate and consequently did not recommend this option. However, the two remaining groups felt that dispersant use would provide some net benefit despite having a negative effect on subsistence use. The workshop concluded with the participants developing a list of lessons learned and recommendations for future area oil spill response planning.
Publisher or UniversityEcosystem Management & Associates, Inc.
Series : NrTechnical Report;12-01