Risk assessment of vessel accidents and spills in the Aleutian Islands

July 15, 2008

More than 7,000 large commercial vessels follow a major North Pacific shipping lane through Unimak Pass in Alaska's Aleutian Islands annually. That number is expected to climb with increases in vessel traffic between Asia and North America. Over the years, there have been numerous accidents, including in 2004 when the Selendang Ayu ran aground in a severe storm and spilled more than 300,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil into the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. One of the largest spills in U.S. waters since the Exxon Valdez incident in 1989.

The court settlement following the accident specified that funds be allocated for a comprehensive risk assessment of ship accidents and spills in the Aleutian Islands and for projects identified by the assessment. A new report from the Transportation Research Board of the National Research Council, RISK OF VESSEL ACCIDENTS AND SPILLS IN THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: DESIGNING A COMPREHENSIVE RISK ASSESSMENT examines data related to the risk of oil spills from vessel traffic through the Aleutian Islands and identifies key information needed to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment.

A public briefing to release the report will take place on July 17 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Alaska Time in the Yukon Room at the Sheraton Hotel, 401 East 6th Ave., Anchorage, Alaska.

R. KEITH MICHEL (chair), president, Herbert Engineering Corp., Alameda, Calif.
THOMAS LESCHINE, director, University of Washington School of Marine Affairs, Seattle
MARGARET WILLIAMS, director, Bering Sea Ecoregion Program and Russia Projects, World Wildlife Fund, Anchorage, Alaska

Advance copies will be available to reporters only beginning at 3 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, July 16. THE REPORT IS EMBARGOED AND NOT FOR PUBLIC RELEASE BEFORE 3 P.M. EDT ON THURSDAY, JULY 17. To obtain a copy, reporters should contact the National Academies' Office of News and Public Information; tel. 202-334-2138 or e-mail news@nas.edu.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

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