Annual spill prevention and recovery training with the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company runs this year from today through May 3 in six coastal communities, including Cordova from April 19-26. Photo courtesy of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.

Annual oil spill response training for fishing vessels in six Prince William Sound communities, including Cordova, is underway and will run through May 3, with over 350 participating vessels and over 1,500 individual residents of these communities.

Training exercises in Cordova are slated to run from April 19-26.

The exercises are conducted annually by Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., in the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster on March 24, 1989. Alyeska Pipeline contracts for the training with regional and village Alaska Native corporations, the U.S. Coast Guard, and others.

The oil spill recovery exercises include two days of hands-on training for crew members about these vessels. Crew members will practice with response equipment on shore before deploying skimmers boom and other equipment from their vessels on the water.

The schedule calls for training to be conducted in Kodiak from Friday to April 2; in Homer from April 5-8; in Seward April 11-12; in Whittier April 15-17; Cordova April 19-26; and Valdez from April 29-May 3.

The fishing vessel program began in 1990 to employ locals in oil spill response especially those working in the fishing industry, said Kate Dugan, the Valdez communications manager for Alyeska Pipeline.
“Today the boats and their crews are an integral part of Alyeska’s response readiness and trusted team members,” she said. “Every year vessels of opportunity participate in rigorous training that lasts several days. Crews spent time learning oil spill and emergency response basics. Then they head on to the water for hands-on experience.”

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The crews work with Ship Escort/Response Vessel System (SERVS) personnel on response barges to load up their own boats with equipment, and then practice deploying boom, setting up skimmers and rehearsing other recovery tactics. Additionally, many vessels participate in drills and exercises to ensure that they are prepared to respond in case of an actual incident.

For over 43 years Alyeska Pipeline has operated the 800-mile Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) to move oil extracted on Alaska’s North Slope south to the Port of Valdez, the northern most ice-free port in the United States. The pipeline itself transverses three mountain ranges, permafrost regions, and 34 major rivers and streams. Alyeska Pipeline personnel work in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Valdez and at pump stations and response facilities all along the pipeline route. They also operate the Ship Escort Response Vessel System for Prince William Sound.

Alyeska Pipeline is currently recruiting additional vessels in Whittier, Valdez, and Cordova. For more information on participating contact Dennis Fleming fishing vessel coordinator, at [email protected].

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