SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Recent grounding of fuel tanker off Alaska’s coast highlights need for Arctic Safety


June 27, 2016
Monday AM

(SitNews) Bethel, Alaska - Friday a Norwegian flagged chemical tanker, the Champion Ebony, ran aground on Nunivak Island, 135 miles west of Bethel in the Bering Sea. The ship was loaded with 14.2 million gallons of fuel products, but no polluting agents appear to have leaked from the tanker.

Alaskan & Proud

Schmolck Mechanical Contractors - Ketchiikan, Alaska

The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission (AAPC) heard early and often that Alaskans living in Arctic coastal villages were concerned about the possibility of a hazardous spill in Arctic waters and about the lack of resources to adequately respond.

The AAPC’s recommendation 1A is to “Facilitate the development of Arctic port systems in the Bering Strait region to support export, response and regional development.”

In addition, one of the The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission’s Strategic Lines of Effort consisted of eight recommendations directing the state of Alaska to address the response capacity gap in Alaska’s Arctic. For example, recommendation 2G is to “Ensure that a variety of response tools are readily available and can be deployed during an oil or hazardous substance discharge or release.”

“The state of Alaska and the United States Coast Guard, responding to the direction of the AAPC and others, is stepping up and addressing Arctic maritime safety,” Majority Whip Bob Herron, D-Bethel, former Co-Chair of the AAPC said. “More needs to be done though. Senator Murkowski’s funding efforts for an icebreaker is a good first step. This incident definitely highlights the need for more icebreakers, a forward Arctic U.S. Coast Guard base - the closest one now is 900 miles away in Kodiak - and continued support for Arctic Coast Guard operations, exercises, and disaster planning.”

Rep. Herron spoke to ?Luke Smith, Executive Director of Mekoryuk, a village in his legislative district on Nunivak Island, earlier Friday. Smith said the grounding was a close call and that increased maritime traffic is a large concern for people in his village.

The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission's Implementation Plan is the state of Alaska’s Arctic strategy and can be found at


Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

Office of Majority Whip Bob Herron, D-Bethel, former Co-Chair of the AAPC


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