Sens. Murkowski and Begich Introduce Prince William Sound Escort Vessels Legislation
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, today introduced legislation that would require all tankers transporting oil in Prince William Sound be escorted by at least two towing vessels, as has been the practice for the past 20 years.
The current tanker safety system was authorized in the Oil Spill Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA90) and currently applies to single hulled oil tankers only. The last single hulled tanker in the Prince William Fleet is expected to be retired from service by August 2012. The legislation would require dual escort vessels for double hulled tankers as well.
There have been a number of marine incidents and near misses in the 20 years since the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in 1989. But through the work of the U.S. Coast Guard, the industry, the State of Alaska and the Prince William Sound Regional Citizen Advisory Council to implement the requirements of OPA90, there have been no major oil spills.
“The current oil transport system in Prince William Sound is one of the safest in the world,” Murkowski said. “While I recognize that double hulled tankers are an improvement over single hulls, they will not, by themselves, prevent oil spills. Even with double hulled tankers, we must not compromise the existing safety system which has been so successful. We must remain ever vigilant and not forget the devastation that the Exxon Valdez oil spill caused.”
“The dual escort coverage of tankers operating in Prince William Sound has helped ensure we have the best oil transportation system in the world,” Begich said. “The tractor tugs have proved their usefulness several times when tankers needed assistance. Their continued use is inexpensive insurance to protect the environment of Prince William Sound and maintain the flow of oil.”
U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, is working with his fellow Members of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on a House version of this provision.