NOAA releases Alaska Oil Spill Risk Analysis

NOAA has released an Alaska Oil Spill Risk Analysis — a first order screening tool for fuel spill response planning. It identifies locations and species at risk so that local, state and federal planners can assess risks and consider restoration actions that may be required or in the event of a fuel spill.

In the Alaska Oil Spill Risk Analysis, NOAA developed a picture of fuel spill risk using past vessel and facility spill data, spill planning scenarios (Worst Case Discharge and Maximum Most Probable Discharge), and impacts to habitat and wildlife. The analysis examines the full spectrum of fuel spill scenarios—from the high probability-low consequence incident involving less than one barrel of oil, to the low probability-high consequence incident that a major spill would present. NOAA’s Alaska Oil Spill Risk Analysis model assesses and considers the following:

  • Current and future out to the year 2025
  • 14 geographic zones, based on current Contingency Planning Regions for the state
  • Three habitat types: shoreline, seafloor and sea ice
  • 36 species, including marine mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates
  • Various types of oil: crude oils, heavy oils, light oils and distillates
  • Seasonal differences

Presidential directives, the National Contingency Plan, and federal policy require that agencies consider risk as they begin the oil spill planning process. As Jeanne Hanson, the assistant regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries Alaska Regional Office of Habitat Conservation explains, “Working with a variety of experts on oil spill impacts, NOAA developed this risk analysis to ensure that we and our partners act strategically and effectively to respond to oil spills, to assess damage to natural resources, and to plan for the restoration of damaged resources.”

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