Arctic Council Work Group Addresses Oil Spill Risks
To advance environmental stewardship in the Arctic, three senior officials of the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) traveled to Montreal in mid-June for meetings in support of the Arctic Council.
BSEE’s Oil Spill Preparedness Division Chief David M. Moore participated in the Arctic Council’s Emergency Prevention Preparedness and Response (EPPR) work group meeting as part of the U.S. delegation, which also included U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and Department of Energy (DOE) representatives.
Moore was joined by BSEE’s Alaska Region Director Mark Fesmire and Regulations and Standards Branch Chief Lakeisha Harrison at a workshop in Montreal leading up to the EPPR meeting.
Moore described a simulated oil spill exercise involving all eight nations of the Arctic Council. The simulation, Moore reported, “involved a scenario involving the collision of a bulk carrier and shuttle tanker off the coast of Norway.” Although final evaluation of the exercise will result in a USCG report, Moore did note that the exercise demonstrated how, “numerous countries were able to identify and offer limited response equipment and personnel.”
There are three EPPR projects for which BSEE is the lead or co-lead. Each project is a deliverable for the forthcoming 2017 meeting, which will conclude the U.S. chairmanship of the Arctic Council.
At the June meeting Moore presented a briefing on the first deliverable, the Circumpolar Response Viability Analysis project, which is examining the limitations and viability of mechanical recovery, in situ burn, and dispersant systems throughout the Arctic. The goal of this deliverable is to estimate how often different types of response systems can be effectively deployed in various areas of the Arctic based on historical metocean conditions. He also briefed attendees on the BSEE-led Arctic Response Equipment Database that will contain a list of government and privately-owned oil spill response equipment and capping devices across the Arctic Council member states.
Moore, Fesmire and Harrison participated in a day long workshop to address the third ministerial deliverable, the prevention standard report, co-led by the U.S. and Norway. Fesmire commented on the perspectives of many member states and representatives of the International Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP). He noted that “the U.S. and Norway are committed to finalizing the prevention standards report.”
Harrison, echoing Fesmire’s observations, reported that “BSEE will remain engaged with the process to ensure the U.S. position on these issues is presented.” BSEE – along with USGS, USCG, and DOE – supports the Arctic Council on efforts related to oil spill preparedness and other issues of common concern among Arctic nations.
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