A Changing Horizon: Building Community Oil Spill Response Capacity in the Arctic
Inslee, Joseph Robert
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Multiple environmental changes in northern Alaska are producing conditions that increase the likelihood of a hazardous release such as an oil spill. Currently, the communities in the Northwest Arctic Borough (NWAB) do not feel secure in their or the oil industry's ability to respond to a spill; thus, NWAB residents feel it is necessary to increase their capacity to respond to marine-based pollution threats. This research provides an in-depth overview of the resources available to help NWAB communities increase their oil spill response capacity. A historical analysis of community spill response in Alaska and interviews with spill response experts were the primary research methods used. Common challenges to establishing and maintaining community response are given detailed discussion. Recommendations regarding what can be done to raise spill response framework awareness in the communities are also provided. The research presented demonstrates that increasing Arctic spill response capacity cannot be addressed by simply supplying equipment and training. Rather, the process is incremental and requires significant leadership from within the community. Maintaining a core responder base is a difficult challenge, and substantial oversight is required to maintain personnel. As a result, communities should work with oil spill response organizations and their sub-contractors as the most viable way to increase their number of trained personnel in the community.
- Marine affairs