Regional/Area Planning Proposal
In an effort to be better prepared in the event of an oil spill or hazardous materials release in the State of Alaska, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Region 10, and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) District 17 and Sectors Anchorage, Juneau, and Marine Safety Unit Valdez are considering adjusting from the existing Unified Plan for oil spill and hazardous materials releases to a framework that is more consistent with the National Contingency Plan and the National Response Framework.
Currently, state and federal agencies operate under two plan volumes. The first volume is the Unified Plan, which contains statewide guidance, policy and response procedures. The second volume is the applicable subarea contingency plan. Alaska is currently divided into 10 subareas for planning purposes but the proposed changes involve replacing the current system with an Alaska Regional Contingency Plan and four Area Contingency Plans. The four Area Contingency Plans will combine several of the current subareas under a nationally recognized planning structure. The information included in the current subarea format will be transferred to Geographic Annexes within the Area Contingency Plans. Management of the Regional Contingency Plan will be by the Alaska Regional Response Team while the Area Contingency Plans will be managed by the On-Scene Coordinators with overall coordination between the two plans and planning entities falling to the Statewide Planning Committee.
In February 2017, the USCG Headquarters issued a memorandum directing USCG nationwide to revitalize their pollution preparedness planning program in order to bring about consistency in USCG Area Contingency Plans. Although Alaska state and federal agencies and USCG Headquarters were on a parallel course at revamping contingency plans, the Alaskan effort was largely halted in March 2017. This was to ensure that any new plans developed in Alaska would align with the mandates of the USCG memorandum.
Feb. 2017 USCG HQ Memorandum Summary:
- Captain of the Port (COTP) is to manage a “stand-alone” coastal Area Contingency Plan (and Area Committee) unique to the single COTP zone
- USCG HQ will create new standardized contingency planning products, modernized templates, and more efficient processes to achieve consistency nationwide
- Numerous tasks to USCG Office of Marine Environmental Response
- Provides no timeline for compliance
In late May 2017, the State and Federal On-Scene Coordinators met with the chairpersons of the Alaska Regional Response Team and the task force designated to review options for updating the Alaska Planning Framework. The task force was assigned by the Alaska Regional Response Team and comprised of representatives from DEC, EPA, and USCG. After thorough review of the USCG memo and updates from the task force, the On-Scene Coordinators determined that the new framework developed for Alaska remains consistent with the requirements outlined in the February USCG memo, provided the planning boundaries delineate coastal and inland zones. The updated proposal is to ensure that the three coastal zones will mirror the existing three Captain of the Port Zones with the remaining portion comprising the inland zone. There will be only one Federal On-Scene Coordinator responsible for each Area Contingency Plan; USCG for coastal and EPA for inland. Representing the State of Alaska, ADEC will be a signatory to all plans. In order to retain the planning and response consistency this state has developed and appreciates, the Co-Chairs of the Alaska Regional Response Team and the On-Scene Coordinators have agreed to establish a Statewide Planning Committee for all plans with representatives from the USCG, EPA, ADEC, and other government response partners.
This website will provide information on the process, Frequently Asked Questions, maps and how the public can participate in the process. Check back often for updates.
Public and Other Stakeholder Input
If this proposal is adopted, it will require changes to Alaska State Regulations. There are no specific regulation revisions proposed at this time, and no draft regulations to review. However, the State of Alaska noticed for public scoping for possible updates to Master Prevention and Contingency Plan Boundary Regulations. This notice is now closed and is under internal review. View the Online Public Notice and Public Comment Summary.
Plan Responsibility Matrix
The below table is a depiction of the existing plans and how they may be changed under this proposal.
|Government Responsible||Current Plan Name||Proposed Plan Name||Prior to 1993||Notes|
|EPA & USCG||Nat'l Contingency Plan (NCP)||NCP|
|RRT||Unified Plan||Alaska Regional Plan||1993 state and feds created one plan to fulfil requirements of Regional Plan & Master Plan = Unified Plan|
|FOSCs & SOSCs||Unified Plan (Subarea plans are part of the Unified Plan) (AS 46.04.210)||Area Plans (Arctic, Western, PWS, and Southeast)||Area plans will satisfy the requirement of regional master Plans as stated in AS 46.04.210|
|State||Master Plan||Met requirements of NCP for state to have Master Plan.|
|Area Committees||Subarea Plans (18 AAC 75.496)||Geographic Annex of Area Plans||The Area Plans will have area committees; there will not be separate area committees for the geographic annexes to the APs|
Creating Area Committees