CISPRI General Manager, Doug Lynch, shows new environmental sensitivity mapping of Cook Inlet at Kenai Chamber meeting.
It’s been over a decade that Doug Lynch has been the general manager for Cook Inlet Spill Prevention & Response Inc. (CISPRI). Lynch recently updated the Kenai Chamber of Commerce on some of the improvements that CISPRI has made during that time. “Our job is to be the firehouse and to respond to oil spills, we are on call 24/7 365 days a year and we can mobilize in about a half hour in the day and little longer at night, so we are always ready go very promptly,” said Lynch.
CISPRI was created in response to the Exxon Valdez spill and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 which called upon the oil industry to prepare for spills with contingency plans and increased methods of spill prevention. Lynch believes the reason there have not been any other major spills since the Exxon Valdez is due to the heavy investment industry has made in organizations such as CISPRI. “The major difference is that now the industry has to prepare a contingency plan for the worst case scenario rather than just a plan to contain a spill an industry has invested heavily in prevention technology,” said Lynch.
CISPRI’s annual budget is in excess of $8 million dollars and Lynch estimates they have more than $17 million dollars worth of response equipment available at their locations in Nikiski, Anchorage, Drift River, and Homer. For the Cook Inlet a study has been done to show the ebb and flow of the tide in order to follow the path of a potential oil spill. Key waterfowl habitats are identified so that they can be better protected as well as other wildlife habitats. Lynch passed around several maps at the Chamber meeting that have been developed to aid in the protection of salmon streams in the Cook Inlet water shed.
CISPRI has established an extensive spill response program for Cook Inlet. “Cook Inlet is renowned for its dynamic marine conditions including one of the highest tidal ranges in the world and dynamic ice conditions in the winter,” said Lynch. A technical manual has been specifically tailored to response efforts required for oil spills in Cook Inlet and is revised on a continual basis. A Cook Inlet database has been developed to facilitate a better understanding of spill causes, their trajectories and impacts, and means by which the spills can be more effectively mitigated.
Regular no-notice training drills with real case scenarios are held at CISPRI headquarters in Nikiski. According to Lynch these drills have helped greatly in increasing their readiness to respond to a spill.
Additionally each of the oil companies is required to have a spill management team and they are required to trail annually. “These drills have made big changes in the capabilities of oil companies managing a spill and all for the best. These exercises and scenarios are realistic, involving real time weather conditions, tides, periodic physical deployments of response equipment and in-depth planning by the spill management team. The exercise is observed by regulatory agencies the Coast Guard, EPA and Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation. They take note of what went well and what didn’t go well and then next time there is a drill we try to work in some of the things that didn’t go well so we can make sure we fixed the problems,” explained Lynch.
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