Emergency preparedness is on everyone’s mind in light of the recent fire in Chiniak. That’ll be a big part of the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council fall meeting in Kodiak this week.
Lisa Matlock is the group’s outreach coordinator and says the council was created right after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, when citizens had banded together in the oil pollution act of 1990.
“We were created in law to make sure that citizens of the Exxon-Valdez oil spill region have a voice at the table with industry and with regulators to try to keep an oil spill like that from ever happening again. Oil spill prevention is our main goal.”
Matlock says that’ll be part of the council’s agenda for the next few days.
“Since Kodiak’s one of our communities, as with all of our communities, we have three board meetings a year, and our fall board meeting always travels to one of our communities. We get to Kodiak about once every seven years, because we do travel out to these seven different communities in the fall. And because we don’t get to Kodiak as often as we would like, we’re doing a whole variety of things along with our board meeting this week.”
For instance, they’re offering a workshop today called the Incident Command System for Stakeholders, which is by invitation and designed for people who would be called to action – or whose lives would be changed – in the case of an emergency.
“It’s a one-day workshop. The first half of the workshop is all about the incident command system, which is the system used in any large event, like a fire or an oil spill across the country. So, it’s kind of an introduction to that. And then in the afternoon it’s a chance for people in the community to talk about what issues might arise should there be a large event in Kodiak – should there be a tsunami, should there be a oil spill, any of those sorts of things.”
The board meeting tomorrow is open to the public and will continue part of Friday. Matlock says that along with the usual board business, they’ll be talking about emergency responses specific to conditions in Alaska.
“We have some folks from the NUKA Research and Planning Group who are going to be talking about the response gap in Prince William Sound. Is there a gap in whether or not we’d really be able to respond with real weather, with real darkness, with those sorts of issues that we run into Alaska if there were an oil spill? Commander Joseph Lally of the U.S. Coast Guard is going to be giving a presentation about managing tanker movements during high weather events.”
Then, on Saturday between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., families can drop by the National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center where they can circulate around seven booths with information about what oil spill response involves.
“There’s a station about wildlife response and how we clean up wildlife after an oil spill. There’s a station about oil viscosity and how different chemical qualities of oil change how you might respond to an oil spill. How weather and tide can affect oil. How we look at particularly environmentally and culturally sensitive sites and plan to make sure they’re specially protected during an oil spill.”
Matlock says the board meeting tomorrow takes place between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and then on Friday, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. She also says that everyone is invited to a public reception at the Kodiak Fisheries Research Center between 6 p.m. and 8 Thursday night, where they can enjoy snacks and a performance from Under the Moose. You can find the full schedule on pwsrcac.org.