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DEC Proposes Improvements to Spill Prevention and Contingency Plans

  • For immediate release — November 2, 2021
  • Contact: Tiffany Larson, 907-451-2298

Juneau, AK — The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) posted proposed changes to the regulations for Oil Discharge Prevention and Contingency Plans and Streamlined Plans (plans) for public comment on Monday, November 1. Certain vessels, railroads, pipelines, and oil terminal facilities must have approved plans to lawfully operate in the state.

"The goal is absolutely to maintain Alaska’s high standards for environmental protection, while also modernizing plan-holder requirements and ending 'administranglia' for our plan holders that takes their focus and resources away from the things that really matter," said DEC Commissioner Jason Brune. "In the end, we want to see contingency plans that are very effective for preventing and responding to spills and don’t get caught up things that are duplicative, inefficient, or no longer work."

Over two years, DEC sought input from industry and stakeholders regarding how the plan requirements could be improved. The Department held meetings, made presentations, and undertook a five-month public scoping project that generated 350 comments from 130 separate individuals and organizations.

One significant change is merging and streamlining the requirements for what must be in a plan with the criteria DEC will use when approving plans. Previously these had been in two separate sections of the regulations, leading to confusion over what was required. Another improvement is to clarify what operators can expect during DEC inspections, and to incorporate virtual technology into the department's oversight regimen where it will improve the outcome. Communication methods, records requirements, requirements for submitting plans, and public notice requirements have all been modernized to reflect current technology.

There are 131 active plans, representing approximately 77 plan holders, all of which would be affected by the proposed changes. The changes in the draft regulations would not affect non-tank vessel contingency plans or extend contingency plan requirements to vessels or facilities that are not already covered.

Information on the proposed changes and how to submit a comment is posted on DEC's website. The deadline for comments on the draft regulations is January 31, 2022.

"We’ve extended the public comment period past the required 30 day notice because we want to get the best outcome, and ensure that everyone who is interested has time to review the changes and provide comments," said Tiffany Larson, Spill Prevention and Response Director. "We look forward to the feedback, and will consider it carefully as we finalize the spill prevention and contingency plan requirements in regulation."

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