Division of Spill Prevention and Response


Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

Division of Spill Prevention and Response

What does the Division of Spill Prevention and Response do?

The Division of Spill Prevention and Response (SPAR) is responsible for protecting Alaska’s land, waters, and air from oil and hazardous substance spills by preventing, responding to and ensuring the cleanup of unauthorized discharges of oil and hazardous substances. The Division pursues this mission through three main objectives: Prevention, Preparedness and Response. The core elements of each objective are implemented through the Division's three Programs:

What does that acronym mean?

There are many abbreviations, specialized terms and acronyms the Division uses in documents regarding the prevention and cleanup of hazardous materials. Please refer to our Glossary/Acronyms webpage to see definitions for commonly used terms and acronyms.

What are the approvals, permits or authorizations required by the Division?

Please see the Approvals & Permits webpage for a comprehensive listing of authorizations required by the Division.

What is required by law to prevent or cleanup releases of oil/petroleum or hazardous materials?

Please see our Statutes & Regulations webpage for a complete listing of the laws governing the Division.

Please see the Approvals & Permits webpage for a comprehensive listing of authorizations required by the Division.


What guidance is available to help interpret the laws?

Please see the Guidance webpage for detailed information on spill prevention, spill preparedness and spill response.

Who can I contact for more information about the Division?

Louise Cochrane, Secretary for Kristin Ryan, Director
Department of Environmental Conservation
Division of Spill Prevention and Response
410 Willoughby Ave., Suite 303
P.O. Box 111800
Juneau, AK 99811-1800
Telephone: (907) 465-5250
Fax Number: (907) 465-5262
Email: Louise.Cochrane@alaska.gov

Fact Sheets and Publications


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Contaminated Sites Program

What does the Contaminated Sites Program do?

The mission of the Contaminated Sites Program is to protect public safety, human health and the environment by identifying, overseeing and conducting the cleanup and management at contaminated sites in Alaska and by preventing releases from underground storage tank systems and unregulated aboveground storage tanks.

What is a contaminated site?

A contaminated site is a location where hazardous substances, including petroleum products, have been improperly disposed, spilled or leaked from their containers. Many of these sites result from failed containment equipment and improper storage measures or disposal methods considered standard practices before we became aware of the problems or hazards they can cause. Contaminated sites often threaten public health or the environment and can cause economic hardship to people and communities.

Where are they located?

Contaminated sites may be associated with military, commercial or industrial activities, including oil production and storage operations, mining, and a wide variety of smaller enterprises where hazardous materials are used. In some instances, groundwater and surface waters have become so polluted that human health or the environment have been impaired or placed at risk. Some of these pollutants are known to cause increased incidences of cancer while others may contribute to health problems.

What is found at these sites?

Many different types of hazardous substances are found at contaminated sites in Alaska. Sites contaminated by petroleum products are by far the most common. The toxic nature of petroleum products can be quite high for "light" products such as gasoline or aviation fuel, which contain high levels of the most harmful "aromatic" constituents such as benzene. Benzene is a known cancer-causing agent (carcinogen). Aromatic compounds also tend to be the most easily dissolved in water and are responsible for making many drinking water sources in the state unfit for human use. Diesel fuels and the heavier petroleum products, although hazardous, have a much lower content of the most harmful constituents.

Other contaminated sites can have chlorinated solvents, heavy metals, synthetic organic pesticides, non-chlorinated solvents, and inorganic acids and bases. The most toxic of these tend to be the chlorinated compounds, including: chlorinated solvents, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and herbicides, including dioxin-containing herbicides. The banned chlorinated pesticide DDT has also been found at several sites. Heavy metal contamination can also pose a serious threat to public health. Sites where improper disposal of lead acid batteries has occurred, or where mercury was once used in mining retort operations, typify sites where heavy metals are a concern. Chromium and arsenic also show up as heavy metal contaminants.

Threats to human health posed by these hazardous substances cover a wide range. Many of the chlorinated hydrocarbons and some of the heavy metals are known to be carcinogenic. A wide range of acute and chronic health effects may result from exposure to other compounds. Some compounds present both a carcinogenic and chronic health risk. In some cases the most important factors to consider in weighing the effects of contaminants may be ecological rather than human health based. This may be particularly true in remote locations where exposure to humans is less likely.


Who is responsible for cleanup?

In Alaska, about one-third of the sites in the DEC inventory are on federal lands, with most of these on military bases. Another one-third are privately owned and can include commercial and/or industrial properties. The rest are owned by the state and local governments. DEC participates with other local, state and federal agencies in cooperative cleanup operations. In most cases, the responsible parties contract with environmental consulting firms to clean up sites, with oversight provided by DEC staff. However, when a responsible party cannot be identified and a site is a serious threat to public health or the environment, the state may bear the cost of site investigation and/or cleanup. Although Alaska law requires that state funds be recovered from responsible parties, the responsible party is not always able to pay.

How are Alaskans affected?

Contamination of groundwater is the most serious problem in Alaska and the most costly to solve. Many sites currently listed on the inventory have drinking water which exceeds state and EPA health standards for contamination. Populations of fish and other wildlife, on which many Alaskans depend for subsistence, sport, and commercial harvest may be impaired. Contamination may also result in significant economic losses. For example, property transfers can be delayed or may not occur if a site is suspected or known to be contaminated.

What are the requirements for investigating and cleaning up Leaking Underground Storage Tank sites?

DEC has specific regulations that govern the identification, assessment, cleanup and closure of leaking UST sites. Because of the complex nature of contamination sampling and remediation, we recommend that you refer to Articles 2 and 3 of the UST regulations, 18 AAC 78, and the UST Procedures Manual. This fact sheet on the cleanup of leaking UST sites might be helpful. (PDF 494K)

What is Cost Recovery?

The State of Alaska is authorized, under Federal regulation 42 U.S.C. 699 1 b(h), to recover State funds used during oversight of a petroleum cleanup from a leaking underground storage tank (LUST). The State is also authorized by Alaska Statute 46.08.070 to recover money expended by the Department to contain or cleanup the release of oil or a hazardous substance, including petroleum. "Oversight" costs can include Department staff salaries, travel, equipment, supplies, contracts and services, and general program management. Typical cost expenditures for staff time can include, but are not limited to: performing plan reviews; drafting approval letters; attending site meetings; offering technical assistance via phone; and doing site visits or inspections.

If you have questions about Cost Recovery, please contact Vicente Alinson at 907-465-6219.

Who can I contact for more information about the Contaminated Sites Program?

Jennifer Roberts, Program Manager
Contaminated Sites Program
Spill Prevention and Response Division
Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
555 Cordova St.
Anchorage, AK 99501-2617
Phone (907) 269-7553
Fax (907) 269-7649
Email Jennifer.Roberts@alaska.gov

Fact Sheets and Publications for the Contaminated Sites Program

  • Cleanup process for contaminated sites (PDF 258K)

  • Cleanup process flowchart (PDF 87K)

  • Cleanup process for leaking underground storage tanks (PDF 494K)

  • Selecting an Environmental Consultant (PDF 601K)

  • How DEC Makes Cleanup Decisions (PDF 20K)

  • Introduction to Groundwater (PDF 412K)

  • How to Interpret Laboratory Data (PDF 122K)

  • Human Health Risk Assessments (PDF 78K)

  • Ecological Risk Assessments (PDF 36K)

  • Common Contaminants in Alaska (PDF 240K)

  • Understanding Contaminant Concentrations (PDF 164K)

  • DEC Cost Recovery Process (PDF 23K)

  • Department of Defense Cleanups (PDF 59K)

  • Environmental Laws and Regulations (PDF 39K)

  • Environmental Cleanup Methods (PDF 171K)

  • The Exposure Tracking Model (PDF 125K)

  • Additional Information About Exposure to TCE (PDF 169K)

  • Green and Sustainable Remediation (a fact sheet from Naval Facilities and Engineering Command) (PDF 254K)

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Prevention Preparedness and Response Program

Who can I contact for more information about the Prevention,Preparedness and Response (PPR) Program?

Contact the Unit Manager in your respective region or area of interest. PPR Contacts webpage

Terminals and Tank Farms – Underground Storage Tanks

What is the definition of an underground storage tank?

An underground storage tank or underground storage tank system means one or more stationary devices, including any connected underground pipes, designed to contain an accumulation of petroleum, of which the volume, including the volume of underground pipes, is 10% or more beneath the surface of the grade. DEC's definition is essentially the same as EPA's, although Alaska does not include tanks that store Hazardous Waste. Please see regulations governing UST's (18 AAC 78) for more information.

What types of underground tanks are not regulated by 18 AAC 78?

  • Tanks of any size storing heating oil for on-site consumption. See the Prevention Preparedness and Response Program's Heating Oil Tank webpage.
  • Any tanks less than 110 gallons capacity.
  • Any farm or residential motor fuel tank used for non commercial purposes that is less than 1,100 gallons capacity.
  • Hazardous waste storage tanks. For more information...
  • Septic tanks. For more information...
  • Pipeline facility. For more information...
  • Tanks in basement or tunnel. For information...
  • Emergency overfill tanks that are emptied within 24 hours, or
  • Flow through process tanks.

Unsure of your situation?
Contact DEC's UST Manager, Larry Brinkerhoff, for an interpretation at 907-269-3055, email: Larry.Brinkerhoff@alaska.gov

What are the basic requirements to operate a regulated underground petroleum tank system in Alaska?


What about Registration Fees and Late Fees?

  • All active underground storage tanks owned by commercial, private and local government tank owners must pay an annual registration fee.
  • Fees are due on December 1 of the year preceding the registration year. UST registration expires on December 31 each year. (i.e.: 2003 fees were due December 31, 2002).
  • Fees received after the December 31 are considered late. There is a $10.00 per day late fee for each day fees are overdue. There are no exceptions.
  • Fee amounts:

Annual Fees for Upgraded Tank*

$50.00 per tanks, regardless of size

* tank and piping must have leak detection, spill and overfill devices, and corrosion protection. No exceptions.

Annual Fees for Non-Upgraded Tank



Less than 1,000 gallons $150.00
1,000 - 5,000 gallons $300.00
Over 5,000 gallons $500.00
  • Full fees for non-upgraded tanks will continue to be assessed for the registration year 2004.



What are the Leak Detection requirements?

Diagram of UST.

Options for Tanks include at least one of the following:

  • Automatic Tank Gauging
  • Interstitial Monitoring
  • Statistical Inventory Reconciliation (SIR)
  • Tank Tightness Testing (TTT) and Inventory Control (only allowed until December 22, 1998, or up to 10 years after installation or upgrade, whichever is later)
  • Manual Tank Gauging (only allowed for tanks 2000 gallons or less)

Options for Piping include at least one of the following:

For Pressurized Piping: You must have both

  • Automatic line leak detectors (ALLD) either flow restrictor, flow shut-off or continuous alarm capable of detecting a 3 gallon-per-hour leak in one hour. Learn more about ALLD's.


  • Annual line tightness testing or
  • Monthly monitoring (Interstitial monitoring, SIR, or an ALLD capable of detecting a 0.2 gph leak monthly).

For Suction Piping: You must have

  • Line tightness testing every three years, however,
  • No Leak Detection required for Suction Piping if piping system: operates at less than atmospheric pressure; slopes back to tank; and has check valve below suction pump.

For Leak Detection systems installed after December 22, 1990, the system must be able to detect a leak with a probability of detection of 95% and a probability of false alarm of 5%. One way an owner/operator can ensure that his/her UST system meets the "95/5" rule is to have the system evaluated by a independent third-party. A number of national and international firms specialize in leak detection performance evaluations.

Leak Detection Probation:
For regulated underground storage tanks (USTs) required to be inspected, owners/operators must maintain one year of leak detection records for their UST system and provide them during inspection. Twelve consecutive months of leak detection records are required. An UST system can not receive a three year tag unless 8 of the 12 LD records are passing, including the last 2 consecutive months. If these requirements are not met, then the UST system will be placed on Leak Detection Probation. The terms of LD Probation are described in the fact sheet downloadable below. The cover letter also below is a fax cover sheet to be used by a certified inspector to transmit leak detection records to DEC.


What is required for spill and overfill devices?

  • All USTs must have a spill prevention device, such as a catchment basin, which should be routinely inspected and cleaned out.
  • All USTs must have an overfill prevention device, either using a high-level alarm, a ball float valve or an automatic shut-off device in the drop tube.
  • The owner or operator must ensure that a tank is measured prior to each delivery and ensure there is enough room in the tank to receive the fuel and that the entire transfer is monitored. UST owner and operators are encouraged to use DEC's new fuel delivery log, available soon.

What must be done to meet corrosion protection requirements?

  • All existing tanks and piping must have corrosion protection.
  • Corrosion protection options include: Non-metallic material such as fiberglass, galvanic or impressed impressed current cathodic protection or internal lining of tanks.
  • Cathodically protected systems must be tested every 3 years by a state certified tester or inspector.
  • Impressed current systems must be inspected very 60 days and the results logged.

What is involved in installing or upgrading a UST system?

  • File an Intent to Install form (PDF 18K) 15-60 days prior to installation.
  • Hire a Certified Workerto install or upgrade the system.
  • For upgrading with in an internal liner, do an Integrity Assessment.
  • File completed Registration form (PDF 34K) no more than 30 days after installation or upgrade complete. Form must be signed by BOTH Owner/Operator and Installer.
  • Make sure that you have Proof of Financial Responsibility: (PDF 49K)
    (Installation only).
  • Pay registration fee of $50.00 per tank (Installation only).
  • Inspectionof the UST system is due three calendar years after installation.

How do I properly close an underground tank?

  • File an DEC Closure notice (PDF 22K)15-60 days prior to closure.
  • Check with your Fire Marshall to see about local fire code requirements.
  • Hire a Certified UST Workerto perform closure.
  • Hire a firm with a Qualified Person to perform site sampling.
  • Notify DEC immediately if spill or leak encountered.
  • Make sure tank and material is properly disposed.
  • Submit a Post-Closure notice (PDF 19K) 30 days after closure.
  • Submit Site Assessment/Release Investigation (PDF 22K) report to local DEC office.


What forms do I fill out and when?

Please see the UST Forms links on our Guidance page.

If you do not have PDF file viewing software programs, or if your browser cannot download these documents, DEC can mail or fax you these forms by contacting 1-800-478-4974 in Alaska or 907-269-7500 outside of Alaska.

Who can I contact for more information about Underground Storage Tanks ?

Larry Brinkerhoff
UST Prevention Manager
Prevention Preparedness and Response Program
DEC Division of Spill Prevention and Response
555 Cordova Street
Anchorage, AK 99501-2617
Telephone: (907) 269-3055
Fax Number: (907) 269-7687
Email Address: Larry.Brinkerhoff@alaska.gov

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Terminals and Tank Farms – Aboveground Storage Tanks

What is the definition of an aboveground petroleum storage tank?

An aboveground storage tank or aboveground storage tank system means one or more devices, including any connected piping, designed to contain an accumulation of petroleum, of which the volume, including the volume of underground pipes, is 90% or more above the surface of the grade.

What are the laws and regulations governing aboveground storage tanks (AST's) in Alaska?

Tanks located aboveground and storing petroleum products are divided into three distinct categories for regulation in the State of Alaska. There are federal, state and local laws regulating each size of tank. The DEC only regulates the third category of tanks:

What should I do if I notice a leaking tank or a tank has a release of petroleum product into the environment?

  • Contact the DEC immediately

      All releases of petroleum product into the environment are required by law to be reported to the Department of Environmental Conservation. Call the closest location to you.

    • Anchorage: 907-269-3063
    • Fairbanks: 907-451-2121
    • Juneau: 907-465-5340
    • Soldotna: 907-262-5210
      Outside normal business hours call: 1-800-478-9300


Is there training available for operators of AST's?

No, training is no longer provided by the DEC. There may be training offered through the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) and/or the Denali Commission.

What are the regulations governing removal of old or unused aboveground tanks?

  • All USTs must have a spill prevention device, such as a catchment basin, which should be routinely inspected and cleaned out.
  • All USTs must have an overfill prevention device, either using a high-level alarm, a ball float valve or an automatic shut-off device in the drop tube.
  • The owner or operator must ensure that a tank is measured prior to each delivery and ensure there is enough room in the tank to receive the fuel and that the entire transfer is monitored. UST owner and operators are encouraged to use DEC's new fuel delivery log, available soon.

Is there funding available for helping clean up contaminated AST areas?

What is the Denali Commission?

The Denali Commission Act of 1998 created the Denali Commission to implement federal-state partnerships to enhance critical utilities, infrastructure and support for economic development in Alaska. Please visit their website at http://www.denali.gov for more information.

How can I get more information regarding aboveground petroleum storage tanks?

For information about Home Heating Oil Tanks, please contact the Unit Manager in your respective region. PPR Contacts webpage

For information about AST's over 10,000 gallons within a regulated facility that stores over 420,000 gallons (refined product) or 210,000 gallons (crude oil), please contact:

Graham Wood, Preparedness and Response Section Manager 
Prevention Preparedness and Response Program
Telephone: (907) 269-7680
Email: Graham.Wood@alaska.gov

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Financial Responsibility & Prevention Initiatives

What is proof of Financial Responsibility?

Facilities that produce, transport or store large volumes of oil have the potential to cause significant financial damage to resources if an oil spill were to occur. Alaska requires certain operators to meet enhanced spill prevention and response standards. Before operating in Alaska, these same operators must meet minimum financial standards to mitigate damages if spill prevention and response fails. This is termed "proof of financial responsibility." An operator’s access to funds can be a key part to supporting a response.

Who needs a Certificate of Proof of Financial Responsibility?

Please see Do I need Proof of Financial Responsibility page for more detail. Here is a general list of facilities that require proof:

  • Oil tank farms
  • Crude oili transmission pipelines
  • Offshore oil platforms
  • Oil and gas exploration projects
  • Oil production facilities
  • Refineries
  • Oil tankers
  • Oil barges
  • Nontank vessels
  • Railroad tank car operators
  • Underground storage tanks

How much proof is required?

Every three years the Department adjusts the required financial responsibility amount for inflation. Per AS 46.04.045 the adjustment is determined using the Anchorage Consumer Price Index (CPI). For the latest amounts please see Current financial responsibility dollar amounts.

What kind of proof is accepted?

Proof may include:

  • Oil pollution insurance
  • Self-insurance
  • Surety bond
  • Letter of credit
  • Certificate of deposit
  • Financial guaranty
  • Protection and indemnity (P&I) coverage

When does my Certificate of Proof of Financial Responsibility expire?

The certificate will have the expiration date on it. It expires on the date of expiration of the bond, insurance, letter of credit, P&I cover, etc. For self-insurance it expires annually.

Is there a fee?

No fee is required to apply for a Certificate of Proof of Financial Responsibility.

Does the proof I use for my USCG COFR meet Alaska requirements?

Not usually. Most federal COFR policies don’t meet the State of Alaska requirements.

Is a deductible allowed?

Nontank vessels are the only facilities that may have a deductible. The maximum deductible is $50,000. Supplemental coverage is required for a deductible for a nontank vessel over $50,000 or any deductible for all other facilities. Please see 18 AAC 75.271(d) or 18 AAC 75.250(d). Supplemental coverage can be provided by means of other acceptable proof (see “What kind of proof is accepted?”above) A “first dollar” provision for the deductible may be allowable (see 18 AAC 75.250(d) or 18 AAC 75.271(d)).

What happens if there is an oil spill?

It is against the law to spill oil in Alaska. Every person who spills oil is responsible for cleaning up the spill and for pollution damages that may result. Claims for damages may be settled directly or may proceed through the court system. In the case of regulated operators, their proof of financial responsibility may be encumbered until claims have been settled or adjudicated and they may need to post additional proof to meet the requirements.

What is direct action?

Direct action is when a lawsuit is against an insured party and also their insurer. In the Alaska courts both the responsible party and the party who provides proof of financial responsibility (insurance company, guarantor, etc.) can be sued in a lawsuit for oil pollution damage claims related to AS 46.04.040. The party who provides proof can only be liable up to the limit of that coverage. The responsible party can be liable for the full cost of all damages - without limit.

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Marine Vessels

What is an oil discharge prevention and contingency plan?

A contingency plan ensures that the plan holder has measures in place to prevent and respond to oil spills, thereby reducing the impact to public health and the environment. A contingency plan provides enough information to guide personnel during an emergency event to respond to a discharge of any size. In order to effectively do so, the plan must contain: emergency action procedures, vessel or railroad diagrams, preventative programs including training programs and substance abuse monitoring, descriptions of oil transfer and storage procedures, an incident command system, response limitations, logistical support, available equipment and proof of the use of the best available technology. Simply put, a contingency plan clearly identifies the who, what, when, where and how for preventing and responding to oil spills. For more information, please see AS 46.04.030; 46.04.055; 18 AAC 75.400

Does my vessel or railroad need a contingency plan?

The State of Alaska requires an approved oil discharge prevention and contingency plan for any vessel or railroad transporting oil or petroleum products as bulk cargo, regardless of the cargo quantity, while operating in State waters. Contingency plans are also required for nontank vessels over 400 gross tons. The contingency plan ensures that the plan holder has measures in place to prevent and respond to oil spills. For more information, please see AS 46.04.030; AS 46.04.055, 18 AAC 75.400 and Do I Need a Contingency Plan?

What is a tank vessel?

Under State of Alaska regulations, a "tank vessel" means a self-propelled waterborne vessel that is constructed or converted to carry liquid bulk cargo in tanks and includes tankers, tankships and combination carriers when carrying oil; the term does not include vessels carrying oil in drums, barrels, or other packages, or vessels carrying oil as fuel or stores for that vessel. For more information on tank vessels, please see AS 46.04.900(25)

What is an oil barge?

An "oil barge" means a vessel which is not self-propelled and which is constructed or converted to carry oil as cargo in bulk. For more information on oil barges, please see AS 46.04.900(23)

What is a nontank vessel?

A nontank vessel is a self-propelled watercraft of more than 400 gross registered tons.* Examples include: commercial fishing vessels, commercial fish processing vessels, passenger vessels and cargo vessels, but does not include a tank vessel, oil barge or public vessel. For more information on nontank vessels, please see AS 46.04.900(11).

*Alaska uses the USCG definition at 33 CFR 138.30 for gross tonnage.

What if I intend to bring a tank vessel or oil barge, not listed in my plan, into State waters?

A spot charter is a single voyage entry into Alaskan waters for the purpose of transporting oil or petroleum products in bulk by a vessel that is temporarily added to an existing contingency plan by amendment. The spot charter amendment must be approved by the department prior to the vessel entering State waters.

Each time a plan holder intends to bring a spot charter vessel into State waters, the plan holder must submit an application for amendment that includes a spot charter information packet which references the approved contingency plan and supplies additional vessel specific information. At a minimum, the spot charter information packet must include the items listed in the Spot Charter Checklist. For more information on spot charter amendments, please see 18 AAC 75.415.

I already have a federal tank or nontank vessel contingency plan. Do I also need one for the State?

Yes. The Federal and State governments have separate regulations for oil discharge prevention and contingency plans. One plan may be developed and submitted to both state and federal regulatory agencies to meet applicable regulations. For more information on state requirements for an oil discharge prevention and contingency plan, please see AS 46.04.030; AS 46.04.055, 18 AAC 75.400; 18 AAC 75.425.

Is there an example of a tank vessel contingency plan that I can review and copy?

The Marine Vessels Section does not have sample plans available for use. It does have a plan application and a review guidance document. Additionally, the Marine Vessels Section is willing to work with a plan holder to ensure that a plan submitted for approval is complete and meets all regulatory requirements. For more information on oil discharge prevention and contingency plan content requirements, please see 18 AAC 75.425.

When and how do I make an amendment to my railroad, tank, or nontank vessel plan?

A plan holder must apply for a plan amendment any time changes need to be made to a plan, regardless of how minor the changes may be. It is up to the plan holder to ensure that the plan continuously complies with state regulatory requirements and the plan holder can meet plan commitments. Amendments can include adding new regions of operation and updating notification lists to amending response capabilities as primary response action contractors revise their own response capabilities. To make an amendment, the plan holder must submit an amendment application. Apply for a Contingency Plan. In order to expedite review for railroad, tank vessel and oil barge amendments, plan holders submit copies of all proposed changes readily identified in a "red line" version.

Once the Marine Vessels Section receives the amendment application for the railroad, tank vessel, or oil barge, it will decide if the amendment is routine or major. If it is routine, the Marine Vessels Section can approve it without a public comment period. If the amendment appears to potentially diminish the plan holder’s ability to respond to a spill, the Marine Vessels Section must allow a public comment period before deciding whether to approve it. For more information on plan amendments, please see 18 AAC 75.415; and Apply for a Contingency Plan.

How long does it take to get a tank vessel or railroad plan amendment approved?

If an amendment application is complete, routine and can be reviewed and approved under 18 AAC 75.415, the Marine Vessels Section should issue a written decision within 5 days. If the amendment must be reviewed under 18 AAC 75.455, the time needed will depend on public comments received and additional information required, but is likely to be at least 65 days. For more information on tank vessel plan amendments, please see 18 AAC 75.415; 18 AAC 75.455.

How long is a nontank vessel plan valid for?

Plan approvals are generally valid for 5 years; however, nontank vessels may suspend or terminate a plan prior to that time. It is the plan holder's responsibility to check the approval status of existing plans prior to arriving in State waters. For more information on nontank vessel plans, please see 18 AAC 75.456.

When do I renew my tank, railroad or nontank vessel contingency plan?

The Marine Vessels Section will establish, in the approval letter for the current plan, when the plan must be submitted for renewal. Plans are approved for 5 years. The same application is used for renewing a plan as for applying for a plan. For more information on plan renewals, please see 18 AAC 75.420 and Apply for a Contingency Plan.

What is an oil spill Primary Response Action Contractor (PRAC)?

A PRAC is an organization registered with the State of Alaska that is obligated under a contractual relationship with a contingency plan holder to provide personnel and/or equipment to contain, control, or clean up oil spills for the plan holder. A PRAC may be under contract to multiple plan holders, please see 18 AAC 75.500.

As a tank or railroad plan holder, do I need to contract with a PRAC?

A tank or railroad plan holder must either maintain on their own, or have available under contract, the resources to clean up a spill. A contract with a PRAC, who has the resources available to meet the clean up needs of the plan holder, can meet this requirement, please see AS 46.04.030(k) AS 46.04.055(j).

As a nontank plan holder, do I need to hire contractors?

An operator must contract cleanup and incident management services for the plan and may hire a Response Planning Facilitator (RPF) to secure response contracts, prepare the plan application and submit it for approval. Here is the list of registered nontank contractors.

How do I locate a PRAC that is registered with the State of Alaska?

The State of Alaska maintains a list of approved Primary Response Action Contractors that can be found at Primary Response Action Contractors List (PDF 80K).

What is the requirement for an Alaska Certificate of Financial Responsibility?

A Certificate of Financial Responsibility (COFR) is issued to a plan holder when the plan holder has provided to the Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Department has approved, proof of ability to financially respond in damages. For more information on financial requirements, please see AS 46.04.040, AS 46.04.055 and Financial Responsibility and Prevention Initiatives.

What are the penalties for not having a vessel or railroad contingency plan?

Operation of a railroad, tank vessel or a nontank vessel over 400 gross tons in State waters without an approved contingency plan is a violation of Alaska statutes and regulations and may subject the owner/operator to civil liability for damages and to civil and criminal penalties. Civil and criminal sanctions may also be imposed for any violation of AS 46.04.010, et. seq., any regulation issued there under or any violation of a lawful order of the Department of Environmental Conservation. The exact penalties imposed, if any, will depend on the nature of the violation. For more information on penalties and sanctions, please see 18 AAC 75.490; AS 46.03.760.

Why does the Marine Vessels Section conduct inspections?

The Marine Vessels Section conducts announced and unannounced inspections of railroads, tank and nontank vessels and equipment. The Marine Vessels Section conducts vessel and railroad inspections to ensure that the plan holder is in compliance with the contingency plan. Response equipment inspections are conducted to ensure that the equipment relied on in the contingency plan is response ready and capable of being used as intended in a response.

The Marine Vessels Section can conduct inspections as often as it deems necessary to ensure compliance with oil spill regulations and contingency plans.

Following an inspection, if issues are identified, the Marine Vessels Section will work with the plan holder to resolve them. Serious problems could result in a Notice of Violation or other corrective action(s) under 18 AAC 75.490. For more information on inspections, please see 18 AAC 75.480.

Why does the Marine Vessels Section conduct discharge exercises (drills)?

The Marine Vessels Section may conduct announced or unannounced discharge exercises with any plan holder twice a year to verify the plan holder's ability to carry out the spill prevention and response strategies described in the contingency plan. If problems are identified, the Marine Vessels Section may choose to conduct additional discharge exercises. Any or all aspects of a contingency plan may be verified during a discharge exercise.

Discharge exercises may range from focused table-top exercises to large-scale equipment deployments. Following a discharge exercise, if issues are identified, the Marine Vessels Section will work with the plan holder to resolve them. The Marine Vessels Section does not evaluate discharge exercises on a pass/fail basis. For more information on drills, please see 18 AAC 75.485.

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Trans-Alaska Pipeline System

Do I need any Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) permits if my project is authorized by the State Pipeline Coordinator’s Office (SPCO)?

Maybe, the SPCO can give approval for matters under the authority of ADNR regulations.  However, the DEC administers the environmental regulations within the State of Alaska and you must have any permits required by the department in order to operate.  If you are unsure of permit needs contact the DEC JPO liaison for assistance.

Do I need to discuss my pipeline/camp/wastewater/drinking water/temporary camp plans with DEC even if I have approval from another State or federal agency?

Yes.  DEC is the administrator for Alaska environmental statutes and regulations.  Other state or federal agencies administer their own different authorities and cannot approve activities governed by Alaska Environmental Regulations.   If your project involves discharges to water, such as a wastewater, you should contact the Division of Water to determine if you require a DEC permit.  If you plans include emissions or to the air, a generator, an incinerator, power generation, you should contact the Division of Air and inquire if your activity will require a permit.  If your project will generate solid waste, include worker housing or food service, or if your plans include the use or application of any form of pesticide you should contact the Division of Environmental Health.  If you are unsure of permit needs contact the DEC JPO liaison for assistance.

How do I contact permitting staff at DEC?

Go to the DEC web page http://dec.alaska.gov/ and follow the links to Division information to find the appropriate contact person for you question.  Or, you can call the DEC JPO liaison for help in finding the information and contacts you need.

Who do I call when I see something wrong on the TAPS corridor?

There are several places you can report a problem. If you see a spill, you can report it to DEC. If you notice something that is not a spill, you can notify the State Pipeline Coordinator’s Office, or the US BLM Office of Pipeline Monitoring. You may also contact the DEC JPO liaison.

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Response Fund Administration

What is Cost Recovery Program?

Under the authority given to the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, the department has developed and implemented a “Cost Recovery Program”. This program will be responsible to seek reimbursement for cost incurred in the cleanup or containment of oil or hazardous substance releases from those responsible for the spill or contamination.

What is the Alaska Statute governing the Cost Recovery Program?

Alaska Statute Section 46.08.070 authorizes the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation to promptly seek reimbursement for the costs incurred by the State in the cleanup or containment of oil or a hazardous substance that has been released in the environment.

Who is responsible for the cleanup of contaminated environments?

The Department of Environmental Conservation is responsible to ensure that cleanup of a release of oil or a hazardous substance is done in a way that protects human health and the environment or that appropriate steps are taken to contain a threatened release. Generally, the owner and/or operator of a vessel or facility from which a release or threatened release of oil or a hazardous substance occurs or the owner of property contaminated by oil or any hazardous substance are responsible for cost incurred by the state for oversight, assessment, cleanup, containment and other related response activities.

What are the costs charged to the responsible party (RP)?

Both direct and indirect costs incurred by the state for response to a release or threatened release of oil or a hazardous substance, as well as costs incurred for cleanup or remediation of a contaminated site are charged to the responsible party.


Direct Costs may include the following:

DEC's staff salaries and benefits such as health care, and employer payroll taxes. These costs are billed using an annually calculated standard hourly rate, by job classification. Direct personnel costs attributable to a site may include but are not limited to, time spent by DEC staff to:

  • Consult with the owner/or environmental consultants
  • Visit the site (travel & perdiem)
  • Review data and reports describing the type and extent of contamination
  • Review proposed cleanup actions
  • Provide comments and/or direction on the preferred cleanup method or remedy
  • Provide information about the site and opportunities for the general public to comment on the cleanup


Other direct cost includes but are not limited to :

  • Travel and per diem.
  • Supplies
  • Equipment
  • Legal Services


Indirect Costs are those costs associated with operating the department and providing administrative and clerical support to department programs. Typical indirect costs may include:

  • Office space, office equipment and supplies
  • Supplies and equipment used in site investigations and other field activities
  • Non-site specific activities of project staff, such as training and program administration
  • Clerical and administrative support
  • Management supervision
  • Development of technical guidance and policies
  • Centralized services, such as accounting, budgeting, human resources, and information systems.

How are the indirect rates established?

The DEC's indirect rate is negotiated with the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is also used to chargecosts against Federal grants and cooperative agreements. Current year indirect rate is 36.98%.

How is the Cost Recovery Program hourly rate established?

The standard hourly rate for regular time is established by averaging the actual quarterly cost of positions by job class, then adding the indirect rate to the average hourly rate.


Specific steps for calculating the standard hourly rate are as follows: 1) the actual costs for salaries and benefits for one quarter of a fiscal year for each job class utilized by DEC are totaled, then divided by the number of positions in that job class, for a quarterly average; 2) the quarterly average is multiplied by 4 for a yearly average; 3) the yearly average is divided by 1763 *regular time hours in a year to get the average hourly rate; 4) indirect is added to the average hourly rate to get the standard hourly rate charged.


*Regular time hours in a year are calculated as follows: 365 (days in a year ) minus 104 ( weekends ) minus 11 ( holidays ) minus 15 ( average number of annual and sick days ) equal 235 work days x 7.5 ( daily work hours ) equal 1762.5 hours, rounded up to 1763.

What other State Departments are involved in enforcing the cost recovery?

The DEC's enforcement of the cost recovery is through the State's Department of Law.

Who can I contact for more information about the Response Fund Administration?

Jeff Hoover, Administrative Operations Manager
Response Fund Administration
DEC Division of Spill Prevention and Response
410 Willoughby Ave., Suite 303
P.O. Box 111800
Juneau, AK 99811-1800
Telephone: (907) 465-5270
Fax Number: (907) 465-5262
Email: Jeff.Hoover@alaska.gov

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