Cook Inlet Harbor Safety Committee prepares to seek members

The Cook Inlet Harbor Safety Committee, a nascent non-profit group intended to foster collaboration on safety issues in Cook Inlet waterways, is drafting a charter and preparing to solicit members in preparation for a first meeting planned in June.

Once established, the Cook Inlet Harbor Safety Committee will recommend plans and practices to Cook Inlet users to prevent spills of oil and other hazardous materials. The committee was a measure strongly recommended by the Cook Inlet Risk Assessment, a study of oil spill risk in Cook Inlet compiled by Tim Robertson of environmental consulting group Nuka Research and by the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council. Individuals interested in forming the safety committee began meeting shortly after the draft of the Risk Assessment was presented to the public in November 2014.

Over the course of four meetings since that time, they have created a convening workgroup consisting of U.S. Coast Guard personnel, representatives from piloting and maritime organizations, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council, and the chair of an existing harbor safety committee in San Francisco.

This convening workgroup will dissolve after it has written the harbor safety committee’s charter and formed a managing board to receive membership applications. The draft charter lists 20 groups of Cook Inlet users that organizers want represented on the Harbor Safety Committee, including commercial fishers, environmentalists, ship operators, port authorities, and off-shore oil producers.

Robertson, who is serving as project manager of the Cook Inlet Harbor Safety committee, said that the meetings have built on the recommendation for the committee made in his risk assessment report.

“I think there’s a lot more clarity now in the mission of the Harbor Safety Committee,” Robertson said. “They (the convening workgroup) got into a lot more details of ‘how do you make this thing work?’ How they are organized and managed and that sort of thing. We didn’t really think about that in the risk assessment. We just said we wanted one.”

Robertson said the convening workgroup has studied the structures of existing harbor safety committees in preparation for creating one in Cook Inlet.

“They (the convening workgroup) focused first on the west coast, the Puget Sound area, the Columbia River area, San Francisco,” said Robertson. “We’ve talked to people at the L.A. Long Beach Harbor Safety Committee, we’ve looked at the one in Boston, looked at one in Tampa Bay, the Lone Star Harbor Safety Committee in Texas. There’s been a lot of learning from what other people have done.”

Despite the examples of previous Harbor Safety Committees, Robertson said that Cook Inlet Harbor Safety Committee will have to deal with the specific issues of its own location, such as drifting ice.

“You’ve got a very challenging environment to work in,” Robertson said. “But the other side of that is that you’ve got a very close community, a small community. Eighty percent of the traffic into Cook Inlet is 15 ships. So it’s the same people coming and going all the time. That’s not the case in other places, where they have a lot of people who are there once and never come back. So you’ve got a chance to build consensus on best practices and that sort of thing with a very active community they don’t necessarily have in other places.”

Robertson said that once the Cook Inlet Harbor Safety Committee is established, one priority will be to draft an over-arching Harbor Safety plan, such as other harbor safety committees have issued. The draft charter for the safety committee includes a workgroup, lead by an Anchorage U.S. Coast Guard official, dedicated to creating a safety plan.

“They’re basically a documentation of best practices for how to operate in that water body,” Robertson said of the safety plans. “They go beyond the regulatory standards. They’re kind of standards put out by the mariners themselves in terms of saying ‘this is how you need to operate your vessels in Cook Inlet in order to be safe.’”

 

Reach Ben Boettger at ben.boettger@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Nate Rochon cleans fish after dipnetting in the Kasilof River, on June 25, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
King closures continue; Kasilof dipnet opens Saturday

The early-run Kenai River king sport fishery remains closed, and fishing for kings of any size is prohibited

An "Al Gross for Congress" sign sits near the driveway to Gross’ home in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, after he announced plans to withdraw from the U.S. House race. Gross has given little explanation in two statements for why he is ending his campaign, and a woman who answered the door at the Gross home asked a reporter to leave the property. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Alaska judge rules Sweeney won’t advance to special election

JUNEAU — A state court judge ruled Friday that Alaska elections officials… Continue reading

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion 
Soldotna City Manager Stephanie Queen listens to a presentation from Alaska Communications during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska.
ACS pilots fiber program in certain peninsula neighborhoods

The fiber to the home service will make available the fastest internet home speeds on the peninsula

Nurse Tracy Silta draws a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the walk-in clinic at the intersection of the Kenai Spur and Sterling Highways in Soldotna, Alaska on Wednesday, June 9, 2021. COVID-19 vaccines for kids younger than 5 years old are now approved by both the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
COVID shots for kids under 5 available at public health

Roughly 18 million kids nationwide will now be eligible to get their COVID vaccines.

Megan Mitchell, left, and Nick McCoy protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning of Roe v. Wade at the intersection of the Kenai Spur and Sterling highways on Friday, June 24, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Heartbroken’, ‘Betrayed’: Alaskans react to Roe decision

Supreme Court decision ends nearly 50 years of legally protected access to abortion

Demonstrators gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years, a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court’s landmark abortion cases. (AP Photo / Jose Luis Magana)
Alaskans react to Supreme Court overturn of Roe v. Wade

The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion.

Tara Sweeney, a Republican seeking the sole U.S. House seat in Alaska, speaks during a forum for candidates, May 12, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/ Mark Thiessen)
Lawsuit says Sweeney should advance in Alaska US House race

The lawsuit says the fifth-place finisher in the special primary, Republican Tara Sweeney, should be put on the August special election ballot

Gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker stands in the Peninsula Clarion office on Friday, May 6, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska AFL-CIO endorses Walker, Murkowski, Peltola

The AFL-CIO is Alaska’s largest labor organization and has historically been one of its most powerful political groups

A portion of a draft letter from Jeffrey Clark is displayed as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Federal agents search Trump-era official’s home, subpoena GOP leaders

Authorities on Wednesday searched the Virginia home of Jeffrey Clark

Most Read