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DEC announces improvements to oil spill response program, releases updated manual

For immediate release—May 7, 2018

Contact: Kristin Ryan, Director, Division of Spill Prevention and Response, 907-269-7604, kristin.ryan@alaska.gov

Juneau, AK—The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is announcing improvements to its Oil Spill Response Exercise Program, centered on an updated manual for planning, conducting, and evaluating oil spill exercises. The Oil Spill Response Exercise Program is a key component of DEC’s mission to ensure the preparedness and response capability of oil facility operators and other members of the oil spill response community.

“Our spill numbers from regulated facilities have been on a decline and that is a testament to the dedication of the oil industry to reduce spills. Exercises are the best way to ensure the oil industry maintains that capacity,” said Kristin Ryan, DEC Spill Prevention and Response Director. “Over the last few years, we have worked to improve our program to better ensure the response community is able to prevent, prepare for, and respond to spills.”

DEC staff are part of a large Alaska oil spill response community, which includes state, federal, and local agencies, response action contractors, and regulated operators. This community has a common goal of effective oil spill preparedness and response.

“We worked closely with the response community and reviewed guidance from the Department of Homeland Security before making changes to the Oil Spill Response Exercise Program,” said Ryan. “With the recent updates, we believe that the program provides a number of benefits over the previous version including increasing the value of response exercises, making them more cost effective, and improving the community’s level of response readiness.”

Other improvements to the program include:

  • Clarification of the State of Alaska oil spill exercise requirements and DEC’s role in exercises as a partner as well as an evaluator.
  • Better alignment between Federal and State requirements, removing redundancies and making the preparedness process more efficient.
  • Guidance on designing drills and exercises that are more reflective of realistic incidents and better prepare teams to respond to the unexpected.
  • Incorporation of the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management System’s Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) methodology for exercises, which is based on national and international best practices and provides consistency across Alaska and continuity with other areas of the country where operators are doing business

Read the updated Oil Spill Response Exercise Guidance: A Manual for Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Exercises (PDF)

More information on the Oil Spill Response Exercise Program