Cook Inlet Navigator August 2017

Regional Citizens Advisory Council  

The PROPS (Prevention, Response, Operations and Safety) committee along with other CIRCAC Directors and staff recently toured the BlueCrest Energy Cosmopolitan oil production facility at Anchor Point in June. Approximately 100 people staff the Cosmopolitan site, about 90 percent of whom are local hires from the Kenai Peninsula. CIRCAC observed crews as they worked to finish drilling procedures to bring the recently completed 24,000-foot, horizontally drilled (6,000 foot vertical depth) well online. This will be the second well brought into production for BlueCrest Energy.

The tour was followed by an opportunity to discuss and ask questions about the Cosmopolitan site, equipment and operations. Industry tours are invaluable in familiarizing CIRCAC with an operation's complexities, promoting better communications and monitoring, and a sharing of information.  

Capt. Sean Mackenzie (right) relieves Capt. Paul Albertson as commander of Coast Guard Sector Anchorage June 30, 2017. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Bill Colclough.
CIRCAC Executive Director Michael Munger and Director of Operations Vinnie Catalano were among the invited guests at a Change of Command and retirement ceremony for Capt. Paul Albertson at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on June 30 in Anchorage.

Capt. Albertston was relieved by Capt. Sean MacKenzie who   became the new Commander for Coast Guard Sector Anchorage. Capt. MacKenzie  came to Alaska from Brussels, Belgium, where he was the Coast Guard liaison to the European Union and NATO.  He also brings his prior experience as Deputy Commander of Coast Guard Sector Columbia River for Coast Guard Operations in Oregon, southern Washington and most of Idaho; Commander of the Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis and U.S. Coast Guard representative for the European Command in Stuttgart, Germany.

"CIRCAC has enjoyed working with Captain Paul Albertson and we wish him the best," said Munger. "We look forward to having an equally productive relationship with Capt. MacKenzie."

CIRCAC Director of Science and Research, Sue Saupe, was invited to a June conference to share a technical understanding of dispersant science and explain how CIRCAC works with the scientific, technical, and regulatory community to promote informed decision-making during oil spill planning and response. The San Juan County Department of Emergency Management convened the conference to discuss benefits and drawbacks of using dispersants and authorizations for use in Washington waters. Among the objectives: review the state-of-knowledge regarding chemical dispersant use, summarize consensus science, and identify knowledge and information gaps. Ms. Saupe explained how dispersants work, what we know and don't know about their effectiveness and potential toxicity, and how stakeholders and decision-makers evaluate trade-offs and other considerations to inform their understanding of dispersants as an option for oil spills. She also described the unique role and activities of CIRCAC in oil spill planning and response, especially in the context of dispersant-use decisions. CIRCAC Executive Director, Mike Munger, also attended and answered questions regarding our role and formation under OPA 90.

Some of the take-away messages for dispersants use were:
  • Decision-making is complex and nuanced and includes evaluating consequences and trade-offs of moving oil from one environment to another;
  • The window-of-opportunity creates a need for quick decision-making without losing a clear and methodical approach;
  • Oil spill response policies must balance the need for many "tools in the toolbox" against concerns that some places might need to be off limits regardless of potential impacts of a spill not mitigated by other means; and
  • The process for decision-making is iterative, requiring frequent conversations and sharing of information and perspectives through workshops, drills, exercises, and other ongoing planning initiatives.

We at CIRCAC have always recognized that none of our work would happen without our dedicated volunteers. From serving on the Board of Directors and as public members of committees, to subject matter experts on special task forces and work groups, volunteers are an integral part of the CIRCAC community. They are a real demonstration of how many minds working together make great things happen.

Many CIRCAC volunteers contribute in other ways to their communities, as well. We'd like to highlight the most recent activity of John Williams who is President of the CIRCAC Board of Directors and one of Kenai's most active citizens. His newest project involved raising funds, gathering in-kind donations and rallying volunteers to restore Kenai Volunteer Fire Department's old 1941 Fire Engine #3--which had fallen on hard times--to mint condition. Getting there took years and knowing how to make things happen.

In addition to fund-raising, community volunteers banded together to donate their time and materials, including tires, a rebuilt 1941 engine and original siren, fire pump, batteries, 1940s bubble light, sandblasting, and old fashioned polished brass fire extinguishers. The results are something the community can truly be proud of for years to come. To see the transformation, click on the link below.

The Harbor Safety Committee is currently soliciting interested applicants to fill vacancies. More information on qualifications and how to apply is available on the new website.  Check it out  here
The U.S. Coast Guard is inviting public comments on Cook Inlet ice guidelines.  Learn more

September 8 -- CIRCAC Regular Board of Directors Meeting, Land's End Resort, Homer 
September 21 - Alaska Regional Response Team (ARRT) Cordova Center, 601 1st St.  View the agenda at: 9-21-2017.pdf  
October 17 -- Cook Inlet Harbor Safety Committee, Nikiski Fire Department 

Cook Inlet Regional
Citizens Advisory Council