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Take a hard look at the numbers

Posted: April 30, 2012 - 8:00am

A study recently released as part of the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council reiterates a fact of oil transportation in Cook Inlet: while oil tankers have the lowest incidence of mishaps, they also carry the greatest consequences in the event of an accident.

Oil transportation is part of the risk-reward equation of oil development in the inlet. Alaska's RCACs were created in the aftermath of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster to give the public a way to become involved in the oversight of oil transportation with the intent of preventing the mistakes that led to the disaster.

With that role in mind, the Cook Inlet RCAC's risk assessment project gives us plenty to think about. As part of the study, some 16 years of data were analyzed, and 1,000 different spill scenarios ranked by probability and risk.

The fact is that oil transportation will always carry a risk. This study is able to quantify that risk, putting into numbers what we can expect in the future. Knowing the possibilities and being continually aware of potential dangers is crucial in preventing a disaster from happening, and in being prepared to deal with the consequences should the worst happen.

The study also goes into great detail on the probability of other risks -- spills and accidents that involve other types of vessels. And it puts a number to the risk as well: we can expect 3.9 spills per year from vessels operating in the inlet.

While that number may be low, it's still not something we should feel comfortable with.

After all, according to the Cook Inlet RCAC website, "Many people felt that government and industry representatives had become too comfortable in their positions and that complacency was a contributing factor in the Exxon Valdez spill. The 1990 Alaska Oil Spill Commission Report, while discussing the Exxon spill, states, 'success bred complacency; complacency bred neglect; neglect increased the risk until the right combination of errors led to disaster.'"

The next step in the risk assessment is to review the highest risk scenarios, and make suggestions for safety regulation changes. State and federal agencies would need to review and implement any changes. Some changes may be minor enough to implement right away, such as tightening up rules for operating in heavy ice conditions. Some might take time, such as increasing tug services. Either way, a serious appraisal of recommendations by government agencies and the industry is in order to ensure that the concerns of the public are addressed.

There will never be such a thing as risk-free oil transportation in Cook Inlet. But if there are measures we can take to reduce the risk of a spill in the first place, and to mitigate potential consequences in the event of a spill, let's implement them. We'd rather do that now than have to clean up a major spill later.

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spwright 04/30/12 - 10:48 pm
Hiring Procedures

Well How about when they Hire the Captain for a Monster Size Oil Tanker that Captain is able to operate & direct that Ship without being Drunk at the Wheel !

The Captain of the Exxon Valdez was NOT allowed to drive his car in the state of New York because of his Drinking Record but EXXON didn't see a problem with that !

Just one of many examples of Why the St of Alaska should no longer do business with Exxon. & then there is our other Corporate Friend British Petroleum.

SPW "Airborne"

kenai_kid 05/01/12 - 07:14 pm
Hiring practices.

Joe Hazlewood was hired in 1968 by Humble Oil which later was purchased by Exxon. They hired a guy that was legal to drive in all 50 states at the time.
Now, as for his post hiring driving record, Joe had his license suspended three times for alcohol related offenses and his license was suspended at the time of the accident. I suspect the American With Disabilities Act probably saved his job with his first two offenses. His third I am not certain how he made it through. However, it's a little known fact that Captain Hazlewood once saved a crew and ship (Exxon Chester) from sinking in a storm on a run from New York to South Carolina. In short, it is not a hiring practice that makes Exxon culpable, but their HR department.
Additionally, the Valdez is the 53rd largest spill in modern history. According to Watchman on the Wall Jerry, Exxon obviously overpaid the state of Alaska for the spill as the earth is self healing in regards to a oil. As for the washing of the beaches and the biological treatments, those were not only sanctioned by the state but demanded. Sooooo, by Jerry's logic, we may well owe Exxon a refund!
As for not doing business with big oil, what do you propose we do? Negate their leases? Force them to sell their facilities on the slope? Great idea! How long do you think that would be in the courts and at what cost to the state? If only things were as black and white as you paint them SPW!

Don Norton
Don Norton 05/02/12 - 07:44 am
Hiring practices

Talking of revoked licenses. Hazlewood probably should not have ever been allowed to bring a tanker into open waters much less into Valdez. People do things like this all the time they loose a driver license for DWI's and to DUI's so they go and operate some other sourt of vehicle. I can tell you the names of several people I worked with,played softball with, and new thru friends of mine who lost there drivers licenses and could not drive from kenai to anchorage to catch a plane to Prudoe Bay and new people who lived in anchorage who could not to kenai to work at the refineries in Nikiski because they had no drivers license so they flew peronal airplanes because the didn't need a license to fly therselves in uncontroled air space and still nothing is done about this problem.

kenai_kid 05/02/12 - 07:51 pm
Yes Don

The truth is, Joe Hazelwood never suffered a suspension or revocation of his masters license and it is in fact still valid.

Watchman on the Wall
Watchman on the Wall 05/02/12 - 09:52 pm
What can i say other than

What can i say other than what a clown i am for thinking that the Creator, Yahweh God has everything under control and has created micro organisms to clean up natural oil. It appears that my version of reality & Gods Eternal plans differ according to some who believe that God actually needs mankind to recreate everthing.
Mankind even goes to the point of deciding which form of Salvation was exceptable to God and which were not acceptable.
God said his Creation was good after each one of the six days he took to create everything most of which we have not even begun to see or understand. On the seventh day God rested from his COMPLETED work.
Little did God know that according to some men he did it all wrong and they must REDO it all with their better way foreward.
That kind of throws out the theory of Father Knows Best, when smart ones say it really is man that knows best, ah?

I really do think that Jeremiah 6:17 does apply here with the desire To Have It Your Way and say We will not listen to what God has said. ALL of Gods word & prophecies have NEVER been proved wrong in any form or fashion, always come to pass and EVERYTHING will ALL be completed down to every jot & tittle, even the part of exacting judgement on ALL that want it their way instead of Gods way, what say ye smart ones?

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