Cook Inlet RCAC board meets in Homer Friday

The U.S. Coast Guard has approved Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council’s annual recertification, it announced in a recent press release.

Recertification allows CIRCAC to continue “representing the citizens of Cook Inlet in promoting safe marine transportation and oil facility operations in the Inlet,” the Aug. 20 release reads.

The organization is required to recertify yearly with the U.S. Coast Guard ensuring CIRCAC meets Oil Pollution Act of 1990 mandates and is representing community interests.

“As far as OPA ’90 we are responsible for environmental monitoring of terminal facilities and crude oil tankers operating in Cook Inlet,” Lynda Giguere, director of public outreach for CIRCAC, said. “… We develop programs that fulfill responsibilities that we’ve been given.”

Giguere said for recertification, the council compiles a document for the U.S. Coast Guard of the work it has done to fulfill the mandates which includes: contingency plan reviews; presentations made; spill training and drill exercises; initiatives and projects; incident response; public involvement and education; and biological chemical monitoring work, among other activities.

Some specific requirements of the council are to study wind and water currents and other environmental factors, identify highly sensitive areas that may require special protective measures in the event of an oil spill and review standards for tankers in the region.

The council is in the last phase of the first comprehensive Cook Inlet Risk Assessment, according to the release. The assessment examines the risk of oil spills by tankers in the inlet. The final phase includes “implementing mitigation measures that were recommended that could be done right now and reviewing mitigation measures that were recommended for further study,” Giguere said.

The assessment began with identification of risks and studying the inlet and where a spill would be the worst. It was determined that no matter where an oil spill occurred in the inlet, Giguere said, it would have a “really big effect” on the area.

Risk reduction options for immediate or ongoing implementation were released in a July document. These options include: improve cell coverage in Cook Inlet; sustain and expand pilot, captain and crew training; continue to update and improve winter ice guidelines; and establish a Cook Inlet Harbor Safety Committee, among other options.

The document reads, “HSC provides a venue for groups who share an interest in safe maritime operations within a particular area to share information and develop and implement policy.”

CIRCAC will hold a Board of Director’s meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Friday at Land’s End Conference Center in Homer where a presentation on the assessment and HSC will be made. Additional presentations will be given on Buccaneer Alaska and the Cook Inlet Beluga Winter Prey Project.

The council’s recertification is effective through Aug. 31, 2014.

Kaylee Osowski is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.


Board Meeting


8:30 a.m. Friday


Land’s End Conference Center


Includes presentation on Cook Inlet Risk Assessment, Cook Inlet Harbor Safety Committee, Buccaneer Alaska, Beluga Winter Prey Project