Community Spill Response Agreements and
Local Response Equipment
On average, approximately 2,000 oil and hazardous substance spills are reported to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) every year. These are typically from commercial fuel facilities, tanker trucks, freighters, fishing boats, leaking storage tanks, discarded waste, abandoned drums, and mystery spills and can cause serious damage to public health, property, and the environment. Because of the state’s vast size and remoteness, local residents are frequently the first line of defense in responding to oil or hazardous substance releases since outside responders cannot typically arrive in time to deal with immediate impacts. Thus, Alaska's communities play an important role in minimizing oil and hazardous substance spill impacts. According to the January 1990 report by the Alaska Oil Spill Commission, entitled Spill: the Wreck of the Exxon Valdez:
Recognizing the importance of local involvement, ADEC works with communities to provide coordinated and effective spill response. By forging partnerships at the local level, ADEC and local residents will be better prepared to respond to incidents. According to AS 46.04.20(e) and 46.09.020(e), the Commissioner shall enter into agreements with the Environmental Protection Agency, and may enter into agreements with other persons and municipalities in order to facilitate a coordinated and effective response to hazardous substance releases in the state. As the Commissioner’s executors, State On-Scene Coordinators (SOSCs) typically manage these Community Spill Response Agreements (CSRAs) for the Commissioner and ensure these agreements are maintained or updated, as necessary.
The Department will compensate CSRA partners for expenses above and beyond their normal operating costs when they’re responding to a spill that poses an imminent and substantial threat to the public health or welfare, or to the environment as long as the CSRA partner did not cause the spill, or potential spill (per AS 46.08.070). If a community has a signed CSRA and wants to be reimbursed for their time, services, or goods, they need to make this request in writing and get written approval before committing resources or performing services. The SOSC or his/her representative normally gives written approval, but verbal approval may suffice in an emergency.
A CSRA only applies when a community representative makes a good faith attempt to seek pre-approval from the SOSC or his/her representative prior to accessing one of ADEC’s spill response containers (see map) to use State supplies. Then, the community representative keeps an inventory of supplies that were used, so they can either replace these supplies or arrange for the State to do so, as determined by ADEC. A follow-up report to the SOSC describes activities that were performed, supplies that were used, and any non-disposable equipment that became contaminated. This allows ADEC to decontaminate equipment and/or perform periodic maintenance. Documentation/evidence (including pictures) must be available to verify work and/or services were performed.
Response Container Access Procedures
Proper authorization to access a conex, documentation, and after-action reporting typically negates cost recovery when you are not responsible for spillage.
More about DEC's Community Spill Response Program: