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CHAPTER 4 Vessel Trafï¬c, Accidents, and Spills in the Aleutians This chapter summarizes available historical information on vessel trafï¬c, movement of hazardous goods, accidents, and spills in the Aleutian region. These data, while not all-inclusive, serve as a start- ing point for the committeeâs recommended Phase A Preliminary Risk Assessment. This chapter also reviews the sources of these data, the quality and reliability of the data, and the potential avail- ability of additional data for use in future risk assessment efforts. Finally, the chapter summarizes the regulatory framework for navigation in the Aleutian region. VESSEL TRAFFIC Vessel Types A variety of vessels operate in the Aleutian Islands, ranging from small local supply barges, to vessels associated with the ï¬shing trade, to cargo vessels transiting the area to or from Paciï¬c Coast ports. For purposes of a risk assessment of shipping operations in the Aleutians, this vessel trafï¬c can be divided into two broad categories. 73
74 â¢ Risk of Vessel Accidents and Spills in the Aleutian Islands The ï¬rst category results from the substantial and growing maritime trade between the United States and Asia. Many of the vessels trading between northern Asia and the northern Paciï¬c Coast ports of the United States and Canada follow the Great Circle Route through Unimak Pass at the eastern end of the Aleutian Islands chain. The pass is just west of Unimak Island, 1,300 miles west of Juneau and 800 miles southwest of Anchorage. The vessels involved in this trade are a mix of large commercial ships classed as containerships, bulk carriers, car carriers, tank vessels, and others. They are mainly foreign-ï¬agged and on innocent passage through these waters. Weather, distance, and other factors combine to inï¬uence the most efï¬cient route chosen by shippers when voyages are planned. According to the latest tracking data available (discussed in detail below), about 4,500 large commercial vessels transit Uni- mak Pass annually. About 3,600 of these vessels are westbound because the majority of eastbound vessels follow more favor- able currents by using the route south of the Aleutians. Although similar tracking data are lacking for the southern route, it is assumed for present purposes that the number of vessels travel- ing in each direction is equal; thus the total number of large commercial vessel transits in both directions would be about 7,200 annually. The second category of vessels of interest to a risk assessment of Aleutian shipping operations includes local ï¬shing vessels and supply, work, or service vessels calling on Alaskan ports. Vessels in this category are smaller than those in the ï¬rst category, carry less fuel and cargo, are typically on shorter voyages, and are usually of U.S. registry. For example, 400 to 500 ï¬shing vessels operate in and around the Aleutians.1 Also in this category are numerous ferries, cruise ships, tugs, and barges. Fishing vessels operate mainly out of Dutch Harbor; local tugâbarges, small cargo vessels, and work boats operate out of either Dutch Harbor or other, smaller Aleutian ports in addition to making up some northâsouth trafï¬c to and from more distant Alaskan locations. 1 Many of these vessels operate out of Dutch Harbor and typically make two or more transits (two transits is one round-trip) from Dutch Harbor to the ï¬shing grounds each season.
Vessel Trafï¬c, Accidents, and Spills in the Aleutians â¢ 75 Volume of Trafï¬c A comprehensive review of vessel trafï¬c in the Aleutian region through mid-2006 can be found in a report prepared for the state of Alaska by Nuka Research and Planning Group (2006). This report summarizes commercial and local vessel transits through Unimak Pass by using the ï¬rst 9 months of U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) data from recently installed automatic identi- ï¬cation system (AIS) tracking stations. It also estimates ï¬shing vessel trafï¬c by using data from the National Marine Fisheries Service ï¬sheries observers and summarizes USCG data on casu- alties and Alaskan data on oil spills from vessel accidents. As an aid to estimating the future risks of spills, the report calculates the volumes of oil carried by the various types of commercial vessels that use the Great Circle Route through the Aleutians, thereby estimating the volumes and types of oil moved through the region. To supplement the Nuka report, the committee requested and received from USCG 2 years of AIS vessel tracking data for Unimak Pass (covering ï¬scal years 2006 and 2007, and thus expand- ing the Nuka data set) (USCG 2007). The data indicate about 3,500 vessel transits through the pass from October 1, 2005, through September 30, 2006, and about 4,500 from October 1, 2006, through September 30, 2007. Table 4-1 shows the types of vessels that make up the total for ï¬scal year 2007âthe two largest categories being container- ships (40 percent) and bulk carriers (35 percent). The AIS data include detail on each vessel tracked, including its name, ï¬ag, port of departure, and date and time of transit, that could be used to investigate other characteristics and historical data on these vessels from public sources. The following are some additional aspects of the AIS data (USCG 2007): â¢ Among the 4,470 transits of large commercial vessels through Unimak Pass following the Great Circle Route in ï¬scal year 2007, â 3,580 vessels were westbound (85 percent); â 890 vessels were eastbound (15 percent); â 3,130 vessels were bound to or from U.S. ports (70 percent); and â 1,340 vessels were bound to or from Canadian ports (30 percent).
76 â¢ Risk of Vessel Accidents and Spills in the Aleutian Islands TABLE 4-1 Vessels Transiting Unimak Pass, October 1, 2006, Through September 30, 2007 Vessel Type Number of Vessel Transitsa Containerships 1,800 Bulk carriers 1,550 Car carriers 300 Reefers 175 General cargo ships 175 Chemical tankers 125 Crude and product tankers 40 Liquid natural gas and liquid 40 petroleum gas tankers Wood chip carriers 50 Roll-on/roll-off 50 Other 165 Total 4,470 a Numbers are adjusted for missed days and rounded up. Source: USCG 2007. â¢ The number of transits of vessels involved in local trade tracked in and around Unimak Pass in ï¬scal year 2007 was 1,720 (1,435, or 80 percent of the total, were ï¬shing vessels2). During ï¬scal year 2007, AIS was operational and appeared to be tracking vessels transiting the pass about 98 percent of the time. Although a few reports of noncompliance with the AIS car- riage requirements were received, the actual rate of compliance is unknown. Since large commercial vessels transiting this route call on both U.S. West Coast and Canadian ports, efforts to learn more about them or to exercise port state control over their operations would have to involve both U.S. and Canadian authorities. In contrast, the roughly 1,700 local vessel transits are mainly U.S.-registered ï¬shing vessels, so USCG can exercise its authority over them more readily, and additional particulars on their operations may be avail- able from U.S. authorities. 2 This is the number of ï¬shing vessel voyages that are tracked by AIS in the region covered. It could be any number of individual vessels making any number of transits each during the year. However, not all ï¬shing vessels are equipped with AIS transponders; thus, the actual number of ï¬shing vessel transits is much larger than that captured in these data.
Vessel Trafï¬c, Accidents, and Spills in the Aleutians â¢ 77 Additional vessel trafï¬c data could be collected given further time and effort. USCG continues to collect and analyze AIS data for Unimak Pass on a regular basisâa third year of such data will be available in October 2008, facilitating efforts to determine trends over time and project future trafï¬c patterns. In addition, more AIS stations could be installed to track vessels on the southern route or farther along the Aleutian chain. And, as noted in Chapter 3, in 2009 a worldwide long-range identiï¬cation and tracking (LRIT) system for ships will become operational and may supply further useful data. Finally, several other types of vessels may operate in or transit the Aleutians in the future with the development of the oil and gas businesses. They include offshore supply vessels, offshore drilling units, seismic exploration vessels, and anchor handling tugs. The risk assessment would need to account for these and other additions to vessel trafï¬c over the assumed time period. MOVEMENTS OF OIL, CHEMICALS, AND OTHER HAZARDOUS GOODS Cargo Carried Since reports on vessel trafï¬c based on AIS data identify ship types and names, one could estimate the amounts and types of fuel oil carried, as well as possible cargoes of petroleum and other hazard- ous materials. In its report, Nuka Research and Planning Group (2006) estimates fuel oil carried by certain vessel types; the report also totals chemical tankers and liqueï¬ed natural gas carriers, oil barges, and so forth and estimates the materials they carry. According to the report, tankers may carry, on average, 400 million gallons of oil as cargo and fuel, while large containerships and bulkers typically carry 1.6 million and 0.5 million gallons of oil as fuel, respectively. The fuel used varies with the type of vessel: large commercial ves- sels typically use heavy residual oils (thick oils that persist in the environment), while ï¬shing vessels, tugs, and the like generally use diesel fuel, which is lighter and more volatile and evaporates rap- idly but is more toxic when released. [For a detailed examination of the nature and impact of releases of petroleum (crude oil and the products reï¬ned from it) to the environment, see Oil in the
78 â¢ Risk of Vessel Accidents and Spills in the Aleutian Islands Sea III: Inputs, Fates, and Effects (NRC 2003)]. More accurate esti- mates of the amounts and types of oil carried as cargo or fuel by vessels transiting the Aleutians can be derived from AIS data. While data on operational discharges from vessels transiting through the Aleutians are not readily available at present, they could perhaps be estimated by using worldwide data on similar vessels. Whether these data would be useful to the risk assessment that is the subject of this study depends on speciï¬cs of the work scope, yet to be determined. Nonnative and Invasive Species Shipping as a vector for introducing alien species into the marine environment is another risk to the Aleutian Islands, one that is exacer- bated by globalization and increased trade. The costs can be high in both ecological and monetary terms. For example, an invasion of the European green crabâanticipated to be a competitor for Alaskan native speciesâcould be extremely costly to the $117 million shell- ï¬sh industry (Union of Concerned Scientists 2001). While the cost to the U.S. economy of the introduction of terrestrial and aquatic invasive species is difï¬cult to determine, one study estimates the damages at $137 billion annually (Pimentel et al. 2000). Of note in the present context, of the more than $600 million spent in 2000 to address this problem, the U.S. Department of Agriculture received approximately 90 percent for predominantly land-based efforts, while less than 1 percent was dedicated to combating invasive species (U.S. General Accounting Ofï¬ce 2002). Aquatic species move through the marine environment by means of a variety of human-mediated pathwaysâshellï¬sh importation, aquaculture, aquariums, horticulture, and the pet industry, to name a few (U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy 2004). Also of concern is the introduction of invasive species through ship ballast water carrying viable organisms from one water body to another. More than two- thirds of recent introductions of nonnative species in U.S. marine and coastal areas were likely due to shipborne vectors, and transport and discharge of ballast water is the most ubiquitous of these. Alaska, like all mainland coasts of the United States, has felt the effects of successful invasions of aquatic species (EPA 2008). Introductions of terrestrial species have also dramatically affected the Bering Sea region. Given the importance and uniqueness of
Vessel Trafï¬c, Accidents, and Spills in the Aleutians â¢ 79 avian diversity in the Aleutians, a major concern is the threat to bird life posed by the introduction of rats. Rats prey on live nesting birds as well as eggs and can quickly destroy entire seabird colo- nies. A Japanese shipwreck in 1780 introduced the ï¬rst Norway rat to Alaska, and by 1790 one of the Aleutians was named Rat Island. Rats have now invaded some 30 Alaskan islands and many additional areas, coastal and inland. Once established, rats devas- tate seabirds and other species. In certain locations and at certain times, rat âspillsâ (rats swimming to land from shipwrecks or walk- ing from docked ships to land on ropes or gangplanks) are consid- ered to be more ecologically damaging than oil spills.3 Today the Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners are working to control the spread of rats to uninfected islands through education and out- reach activities, as well as to eradicate rats from islands where they have become established. VESSEL ACCIDENTS A signiï¬cant number and variety of vessel accidents have occurred in the Aleutian region over the past few decades, and several data sources can be consulted to determine their causes, circumstances, consequences, and trends. Two key sources are accident reports pre- pared by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) follow- ing its investigations of major marine accidents and USCGâs Marine Safety Management System (MSMS) database. Only a few NTSB accident reports have been completed for the Aleutian region in recent years. Besides the M/V Selendang Ayu accident in 2004, the NTSB database since 1985 includes accidents involving one passenger vessel, one tugâbarge unit, and 20 ï¬shing vessels. The much larger USCG database contains reports of marine incidents and accidents spanning 40 years, from which the committee reviewed data for the Aleutians from 1991 through 2008. Appendix H contains selected summary information derived from MSMS data for the Aleutians from 1991 to 2000 (more than 3,000 incidents) and from Marine Information for Safety and Law Enforcement (MISLE) data for 2000 to 2003. In addition, the appendix contains a table 3 Personal communication, A. Archibeque, Union of Concerned Scientists Report, 2002.
80 â¢ Risk of Vessel Accidents and Spills in the Aleutian Islands indicating most frequent causal factors from more than 1,400 MISLE incident reports for the Aleutians from 1995 to 2008. The committee was able to draw only initial observations from these data. For one thing, ï¬shing vessels accounted for the vast major- ity of individual incidents in the database. The reasons for this imbalance cannot be discerned from the data themselves, but one possibility cited elsewhere (e.g., Nuka Research and Planning Group 2006) is that U.S.-ï¬agged ï¬shing vessels may have a higher reporting rate than foreign-ï¬agged vessels on innocent passage. In addition, as can be seen from the oil spill data presented below, the ï¬shing vessel ï¬eet appears to be responsible for a larger number of relatively small incidents, while the large commercial ï¬eet has experienced a few major incidents. Although the committee was unable to review other accident data because of time and resource constraints, additional data are available that could be used for the risk assessment. One recent study by the Government Accountability Ofï¬ce summarizes major spills for the entire United States from 1990 through 2006.4 Accident data are available as well from other countries and international bodies for similar categories of vessels and operational environments. More detail on speciï¬c incidents could also be developed from several other sources, such as responders to incidents and salvage ï¬rms.5 It is clear that many common types of ship accidents have occurred in the Aleutians. The historical data illustrate the frequency of these events, as well as the difï¬cult nature of emergency response in this remote and hostile environment. Box 4-1 summarizes cir- cumstances and events for ï¬ve selected vessel accidents in the Aleutians illustrating a variety of conditions, vessel types, causal factors, and consequences. These examples illustrate some key issues related to recent vessel incidents in the region and can serve as a ï¬rst approximation of some typical accident scenarios for use in the Phase A Preliminary Risk Assessment, along with others as appropriate. 4 The report deï¬nes major spills as those involving damage claims of at least $1 million. There were 51 such spills recorded during the period among a total of about 3,400 spills. There were no discernible trends for the 51 large spills over the 15-year time frame; in other words, one to ï¬ve large damaging vessel spills appeared to occur each year, with a random pattern from year to year. 5 See Appendix G for a sample list of salvage incidents in the region near Dutch Harbor taken from a private database maintained by a local salvage ï¬rm.
Vessel Trafï¬c, Accidents, and Spills in the Aleutians â¢ 81 BOX 4-1 Circumstances and Events Surrounding Five Selected Vessel Accidents in the Aleutian Region M/V Selendang Ayu â¢ Vessel: Malaysian-registered bulk carrier, 738 ft, 40,000 gross tons â¢ Carrying: 60,000 tons of soybeans and 1,000 tons of fuel oil â¢ Casualty: Lost power; vessel ran aground and broke up after drifting 100 miles to land â¢ Date: NovemberâDecember 2004 â¢ Location: North shore of Unalaska Island â¢ Consequences: Six fatalities, one serious injury; $12 million vessel loss; rescue helicopter crashed; 336,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil spilled â¢ Causal factors: â Main engine failure; crew unable to repair and restart â Severe weather and high winds and seas contributing to problems with repair work and rescue operations â Failure to notify authorities and seek assistance in a timely manner â Lack of adequate emergency towing and anchoring gear â Inadequate prior engine maintenance â Lack of adequate rescue/towing vessel and equipment in the region â Lack of proper survival equipment for crew M/V Kuroshima â¢ Vessel: Japanese-registered freighter, 367 ft â¢ Carrying: Fisheries cargo and bunker fuel oil â¢ Casualty: Vessel dragged anchor in harbor and ran aground â¢ Date: November 1997 â¢ Location: Dutch Harbor â¢ Consequences: One fatality; vessel damage; 40,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil spilled onto beach and freshwater lake (continued )
82 â¢ Risk of Vessel Accidents and Spills in the Aleutian Islands BOX 4-1 (continued ) Circumstances and Events Surrounding Five Selected Vessel Accidents in the Aleutian Region â¢ Causal factors: â Severe storm, high winds and seas â Inadequate emergency anchoring system â Lack of adequate tow/rescue tug in region M/V Cougar ACE â¢ Vessel: Singapore-registered car carrier, 654 ft â¢ Carrying: 4,800 vehicles, 180,000 gallons of fuel â¢ Casualty: Vessel heeled over 80 degrees, was adrift without power for a few days â¢ Date: July 2006 â¢ Location: South of Aleutians â¢ Consequences: One fatality; vessel damage; vessel able to be towed to Dutch Harbor for repairs; near-miss polluting event â¢ Causal factors: Investigations under way T/B Foss 256 â¢ Vessel: U.S.-registered tugâbarge unit â¢ Carrying: Fuel oil cargo for Navy facility in western Aleutians â¢ Casualty: High winds pushed barge over rocks while oil was being transferred to shore; vessel ran aground, and several cargo tanks were penetrated â¢ Date: January 1989 â¢ Location: Amchitka Island, western Aleutians â¢ Consequences: 84,000 gallons of diesel oil spilled; no cleanup â¢ Causal factors: â Severe weather â No emergency response equipment in the area â Other factors unknown (continued )
Vessel Trafï¬c, Accidents, and Spills in the Aleutians â¢ 83 F/V Phoenix â¢ Vessel: U.S.-registered ï¬shing vessel out of Dutch Harbor â¢ Carrying: 7,000 gallons of diesel fuel â¢ Casualty: Vessel lost power and control when ï¬shing gear became entangled in rudder; vessel drifted to Unimak Island shore, grounded, and was penetrated â¢ Date: April 1993 â¢ Location: Unimak Island just west of Unalaska â¢ Consequences: All 7,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled; no cleanup â¢ Causal factors: â Inadequate attention paid to handling of ï¬shing gear â Heavy weather â Lack of available emergency response Source: ADEC 2006; NOAA 2000; NTSB 2006. SPILLS OF OIL AND OTHER HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES The committee reviewed available data on oil spills in the Aleutian region and noted that these data are comprehensively compiled and reported (see Figure 4-1). In 2007 the Alaska Department of Envi- ronmental Conservation (ADEC) issued a report on oil spills from 1996 to 2004, which contained a section on the Aleutians. The data show just two signiï¬cant vessel spills (i.e., more than 10,000 gallons) during the past 10 years, by far the largest of these being that of the M/V Selendang Ayu at 336,000 gallons. An additional review of the past 20 years of spill data shows about 22 spills of more than 1,000 gallons in the Aleutians. A report of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicates that almost no oil has ever been recovered from these vessel spills in the Aleutians (NOAA 2000). As noted above, the data show that in the recent past, ï¬shing vessels have contributed to the largest number of spills com- pared with all other vessel categories, although the largest volume
84 â¢ Risk of Vessel Accidents and Spills in the Aleutian Islands FIGURE 4-1 Recent oil spills in Alaskaâs Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. (Source: Paciï¬c Environment, presented at committee meeting on October 30, 2007.) spilled has been from just a few signiï¬cant commercial vessel inci- dents. Figure 4-2 shows the number of incidents by vessel type from 1981 through 1999 for which NOAA has provided response assistance. Figure 4-3 is a map with detail on spills of at least 1,000 gallons from 1981 to 2006 throughout the Aleutian chain. It shows a wide 30 25 No. of Incidents 20 15 10 5 0 Fishing Barges Cargo ships Research Tankers vessels vessels Vessel Type FIGURE 4-2 Number of oil spill incidents by source for which NOAA has provided response assistance in the Aleutians, 1981â1999.
FIGURE 4-3 Map with detail on spills of at least 1,000 gallons from 1981 to 2006 throughout the Aleutian region. (Source: Nuka Research and Planning Group 2006.)
86 â¢ Risk of Vessel Accidents and Spills in the Aleutian Islands distribution of spill locations and a large range of incident types. Figures 4-4, 4-5, and 4-6 present detail on various characteristics of spills between 1996 and 2005. The ADEC report summarizes discernible trends from these spill data (see Figure 4-4). First, it concludes that the total number of spills in the region appears to have been on a general decline during this 10-year period (Figure 4-4a). Also, the frequency of spills appears to decline during October through January, possibly because of the timing of the ï¬shing season (Figure 4-4b). Trends with regard to the number of spills per year may be somewhat misleading because of the overwhelming numbers of small spills compared with just two very large spillsâthose from the Kuroshima in 1997 and the Selendang Ayu in 2004. Compared with all oil spills in the Aleutians, spills from vessels were the most common and accounted for almost half the total num- ber and 88 percent of the total volume (see Figure 4-5a). The spill causes recorded were roughly evenly distributed among human fac- tors, structural/mechanical, and other relative to the number of spills, but in terms of volume released, human factors dominated (Figure 4-5b). Finally, 98 percent of the number of spills were of noncrude oil, indicating that most of these spills were of either vessel fuels or reï¬ned products being delivered to island locations (Figure 4-5c). The following are initial conclusions drawn from vessel spill data for the time period 1981â2005 (ADEC 2007): â¢ There were 26 known vessel spills of more than 1,000 gallons dur- ing the 25-year period, an average of approximately one per year. â¢ With so few large spills per year, there is no obvious pattern over time. â¢ There were seven vessel spills of more than 35,000 gallons: Diesel or Date Ship Heavy Oil Amount (gallons) Dec. 26, 1988 Tank Barge 283 Diesel 2,041,662 Dec. 8, 2004 M/V Selendang Ayu Heavy oil 335,732 March 5, 1981 M/V Dae Rim Diesel 109,998 Jan. 17, 1989 T/B Foss 256 Diesel 83,958 Jan. 11, 1989 M/V Chil Bo San Diesel 60,984 Nov. 26, 1997 M/V Kuroshima Heavy oil 38,976 Feb. 1, 1988 F/V Alaska Star Diesel 35,952
Vessel Trafï¬c, Accidents, and Spills in the Aleutians â¢ 87 GALLONS Volume Released Number of Spills COUNT 350,000 160 300,000 140 250,000 120 100 200,000 80 150,000 60 100,000 40 50,000 20 0 0 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 FISCAL YEAR (a) GALLONS Volume Released Number of Spills COUNT 400,000 80 350,000 70 300,000 60 250,000 50 200,000 40 150,000 30 100,000 20 50,000 10 0 0 Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun MONTH (b) GALLONS Gallons Released Number of Spills COUNT 500,000 5 400,000 4 300,000 3 200,000 2 100,000 1 0 0 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 FISCAL YEAR (c) FIGURE 4-4 Spill trends in the Aleutians by ï¬scal year, month, and size, 1996â 2005: (a) all spills by ï¬scal year; (b) all spills by month; (c) spills > 1,000 gallons. (Source: ADEC 2007.)
88 â¢ Risk of Vessel Accidents and Spills in the Aleutian Islands Number of Spills Gallons Released Vessel 47% Vessel 88% Other Other 19% 2% Storage 8% Transportation Transportation Storage 15% 2% 19% (a) Number of Spills Gallons Released Structural/ Mechanical 33% Other Human Factors Other 21% 77% 2% Structural/ Accident Mechanical 4% 7% Accident 14% Human Factors 42% (b) Number of Spills Gallons Released Hazardous Hazardous Noncrude Noncrude substance substance 98% 99% 2% 1% (c) FIGURE 4-5 Spills in the Aleutians by (a) facility type, (b) cause, and (c) product, 1996â2005. (Source: ADEC 2007.) [In the Tank Barge 283 incident (USCG MP88008565), the tank barge foundered and broke up in the Shumagin Islands, at the upper end of the Aleutian chain. Because no investigation report is available on this incident that would provide detailed information on the sequence of events leading to the incident as there is for the M/V Selendang Ayu and the other accidents
Vessel Trafï¬c, Accidents, and Spills in the Aleutians â¢ 89 10â99 gal 35% >99 gal 14% <10 gal 51% (a) >99 gal 10â99 gal 98.3% 1.5% <10 gal 0.2% (b) FIGURE 4-6 Contribution of spills of various sizes to total number of spills and total volume released, 1996â2005: (a) percentage of total number of spills represented by spills of various sizes and (b) percentage of total volume released attributable to spills of various sizes. (More than half of the spills reported during the 10-year period were less than 10 gallons in size. More than 98 percent of the total volume released was attributable to spills with a volume of greater than 99 gallons.) (Source: ADEC 2007.) described in Box 4-1 that resulted in large spills, the box does not include a description of this incident.] â¢ Of the 26 known spills, 16 were from ï¬shing vessels (the largest are listed above). â¢ Of the 10 cargo vessel spills, two were from tank barges, seven from self-propelled ships, and one from a vessel designated simply as a tank vessel.
90 â¢ Risk of Vessel Accidents and Spills in the Aleutian Islands REGULATORY FRAMEWORK The United States has sovereignty over the waters of the Aleutian Islands out to 12 nautical miles, which constitutes its territorial sea; it also exercises some authorities to the outer edge of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which extends 200 nautical miles seaward of the baseline from which the territorial sea is measured. Interna- tional law gives each coastal state broad jurisdictional authority to prescribe and enforce within its territorial seas, subject to the right of innocent passage. Since Unimak Pass is an international strait, foreign vessels enjoy the right of transit passage through it, as well as through waters north and south of the Aleutian Islands. While the United States could establish a trafï¬c separation scheme or impose other requirements on shipping related to navigational safety within its territorial sea with the approval of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), it may not take unilateral action that would hamper or restrict international transit rights. However, if a foreign vessel is bound for a port or other location in the United States, the United States may impose additional requirements, such as a vessel oil spill response plan (VRP) for tankers, as a condition of entry. Such plans must include a geographic-speciï¬c appendix for each USCG Captain of the Port (COTP) jurisdiction to be transited; this includes transits to the outer edge of the EEZ (USCG 2007). Several international legal regimes might be applied to manage shipping and shipping trafï¬c in the region. These include the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); IMO provisions concerning vessel trafï¬c services, vessel routing and report- ing systems, and particularly sensitive sea areas (PSSAs); and U.S. statutes and regulations. These legal regimes are interrelated. In March 1983, President Reagan declared that the United States would respect and follow the navigational provisions of UNCLOS as customary law. UNCLOS was signed by the United States in 1994, but to date it has still not been ratiï¬ed by the U.S. Senate. Nonetheless, the United States has taken advantage of the pro- visions of UNCLOS, claiming a 200-nautical-mile EEZ in 1983, a 12-nautical-mile territorial sea in 1988, and a 24-nautical-mile contiguous zone in 1999. As noted above, then, for international and many domestic pur- poses, the United States now exercises sovereignty out to 12 nautical miles from each of the islands in the Aleutian Island chain, as well as
Vessel Trafï¬c, Accidents, and Spills in the Aleutians â¢ 91 some authorities to the outer edge of the EEZ. The exercise of this authority, however, is subject to the inclusive rights of the interna- tional community to innocent passage. Several of the UNCLOS arti- cles (Numbers 17, 18, 19, 37, and 38) deï¬ne this right of innocent passage and explain how it applies for all nations to vessels transiting territorial seas and international straits (UNCLOS 1982). Before the territorial sea in the Aleutians was extended to 12 nauti- cal miles, the international community had a âhigh-seas corridorâ through Unimak Pass. Now, however, the territorial sea of the United States entirely overlaps the waters of Unimak Pass. To constitute an âinternational straitâ under international law, a body of water must ï¬rst constitute a straitâa natural, constricted channel of water that connects two larger bodies of water. The right of transit passage applies to international straits âwhich are used for international nav- igation between one part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone and another part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zoneâ (UNCLOS 1982, Article 37). States may not hamper or suspend the right of transit passage through straits in their territo- rial sea (UNCLOS 1982, Article 44). Because Unimak Pass is used for international navigation and connects two large bodies of water, it clearly constitutes an international strait. While transit passage refers to the right of passage through an international strait, innocent passage refers speciï¬cally to the right of passage through a territorial sea when not calling at a port (for the United States, up to 12 nautical miles from the baseline). With respect to the application of Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regu- lations (CFR) Part 155, Subpart D, concerning VRPs, there is no real difference between U.S. and foreign vessels in the applicability of the requirement to carry such a plan; however, there is now a speciï¬c provision that this subpart does not apply to certain types of vessels, including foreign-ï¬agged vessels engaged in innocent passage [33 CFR Â§ 155.1010(c)(7)] and not calling at a U.S. port. Although transit passage is not speciï¬cally mentioned as an exception, it is certainly included by implication and practice for foreign-ï¬agged vessels not calling at a U.S. port. When President Reagan issued a proclamation extending the U.S. territorial sea to 12 nautical miles, he stated, âIn accordance with international law, as reï¬ected in the applicable provisions of [UNCLOS], within the territorial sea of the United States, the ships of all countries enjoy the right of innocent passage and the
92 â¢ Risk of Vessel Accidents and Spills in the Aleutian Islands ships and aircraft of all countries enjoy the right of transit passage through international straitsâ (Presidential Proclamation 5928 of December 27, 1988). Coastal states have considerably less juris- diction over foreign-ï¬agged vessels engaged in transit passage than those engaged in innocent passage. Thus by inference, the innocent passage exception of 33 CFR Â§ 155.1010(c)(7) applies equally to vessels engaged in transit passage through Unimak Pass. A number of measures, based on both international law and U.S. statutes and regulations, are available to manage ship trafï¬c and operations in the U.S. territorial sea around the Aleutian Islands. If vessels are U.S.-ï¬agged, or if they have plans to engage in the trans- fer of oil or other cargo in a port or place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States on a particular voyage, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) requires that they carry a VRP with a geographic- speciï¬c appendix for each COTP zone through which they will pass. (See Box 4-2 for discussion of an important provision of OPA 90 relative to shipping operations in the Aleutians.) USCG has also given priority to developing VRP regulations for nontank vessels. Part of the purpose of the geographic-speciï¬c appendix is to identify oil spill response organizations (OSROs) with which vessel operators have contracted to respond to an actual or potential oil spill. The closest OSRO to Unimak Pass and the Aleutian Island chain is in Cook Inlet, about 1,200 nautical miles from the pass. IMO has the authority to review and approve sea lanes, trafï¬c separation schemes, PSSAs, and other restrictions on navigation. The organization seeks to promote maritime safety and security and to protect the marine environment while ensuring uniformity and con- sistency worldwide. To this end, it has established guidelines and procedures for reviewing and approving such proposals. While many of the laws governing navigation, environmental protection, drug trafï¬cking, customs, immigration, and ï¬scal matters apply to the waters of the Aleutian Islands, no speciï¬c trafï¬c management regula- tions apply to Unimak Pass. Nonetheless, other rules of international navigation, such as the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, apply (UNCLOS 1982, Article 39). Also, under recent changes to IMOâs 1974 Convention on Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS 74), most ships are now required to carry an AIS, which provides the shipâs position within VHFâFM radio range to other ships thus equipped and to shore station receivers. Ship-to-ship AIS is an effective tool for collision avoidance. The Unimak Pass
Vessel Trafï¬c, Accidents, and Spills in the Aleutians â¢ 93 BOX 4-2 Double-Hull Requirements in Alaskan Waters Following the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound, the U.S. Congress passed OPA 90, which mandated the phase- out of single-hull tankers and tank barges. As stated in 33 CFR Â§ 157.08(n)(5), however, tank barges weighing less than 1,500 gross tons operating in the waters of the Aleutian Islands are speciï¬cally exempted from the double-hull provi- sions of OPA 90. (A tank barge of 1,500 gross tons will have a cargo capacity of roughly 900,000 gallons.) This was con- sidered to be a practical solution to the delivery of oil to small, remote villages with conï¬ned waterways and extremely shal- low water depth, which may not be able to sustain double- hull conï¬gured barges because of their size, weight, and reduced carrying capacity during ice-free, highâlow water navigation periods. As a result, there are currently single-hull tank barges moving petroleum products within the Aleutian region that have no mandated retirement date. The risks related to operating single-hull tank barges in this rela- tively pristine region, known for its severe and changeable weather, need to be understood. It is important that tank barges be evaluated in this risk assessment. region is equipped with shore-based AIS receivers, which enables tracking of vessels through the area and provides statistical data on vessel trafï¬c. This region is the exception; most of the Aleutian Island chain is not covered by AIS shore-based receivers. In addi- tion, IMO is currently working on the implementation of ship LRIT and is working with SOLAS parties to determine how such data will be managed and distributed to coastal, port, and ï¬ag states. IMO agreed to an amendment to SOLAS 74 requiring LRIT capability for certain ships; this amendment went into effect on January 1, 2008, and those ships must comply by December 31, 2008. Although the United States has not yet done so, it could propose that the environmentally sensitive Aleutian Islands, or parts thereof,
94 â¢ Risk of Vessel Accidents and Spills in the Aleutian Islands constitute a PSSA and require special protection against oil spills and other navigational mishaps. U.S. law6 provides broad authority to limit or otherwise control the movements of any ship in the U.S. territorial sea, including the use of vessel trafï¬c services, safety zones, and regulated navigation areas. This authority could apply to the sea areas surrounding the Aleutian Islands out to 12 nautical miles from the baseline as deï¬ned in UNCLOS. Although the United States could impose unilateral requirements within its territorial sea, it is reluctant to impose burdensome require- ments on foreign vessels on innocent passage through those waters. This reluctance is reï¬ected in 33 CFR Â§ 160.103 (âApplicabilityâ), relative to the control of vessel operations, which exempts from com- pliance ships in innocent passage through the territorial sea of the United States or transiting navigable waters of the United States that form part of an international strait. As previously noted, however, if a foreign-ï¬agged vessel is en route to a port or other place within the United States, additional requirements, such as a vessel spill VRP for a tanker carrying oil in bulk that includes a Geographic Speciï¬c Appendix (GSA) for each COTP zone being transited out to the EEZ, would apply; these COTP zones would include the Aleutians. As noted earlier, a regulatory effort is also under way to develop VRP requirements for nontank vessels. Finally, given that the Unimak Pass area is heavily trafï¬cked and vulnerable to environmental degradation, other options for regulating or monitoring vessel trafï¬c transiting through it could be considered. Such options might include a trafï¬c separation scheme or a PSSA. REFERENCES Abbreviations ADEC Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation EPA Environmental Protection Agency NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NRC National Research Council NTSB National Transportation Safety Board 6 The Ports and Waterways Safety Act, as laid out in Chapter 25 of Title 33, United States Code, Sections 1221â1232, and as implemented in 33 CFR Parts 155 and 160.
Vessel Trafï¬c, Accidents, and Spills in the Aleutians â¢ 95 UNCLOS United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea USCG United States Coast Guard ADEC. 2006. Situation Report on the M/V Selendang Ayu. SITREP 111 and Final, Spill Number 04259934301. June 26. ADEC. 2007. Summary of Oil and Hazardous Spills by Subarea (July 1, 1995â June 3, 2005). Division of Spill Prevention and Response, Oct. EPA. 2008. Invasive Species. www.epa.gov/owow/invasive_species. NOAA. 2000. The Aleutian Islands and Lower Alaska Peninsula: Oceanographic Conditions and NOAAâs Oil Spill Response History During 1981â1999. HAZMAT Report 2000-3. Hazardous Materials Response Division, National Ocean Service, Anchorage, Alaska. NRC. 2003. Oil in the Sea III: Inputs, Fates, and Effects. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. NTSB. 2006. National Transportation Safety Board Marine Accident Brief, Grounding of Malaysian-Flag Bulk Carrier M/V Selendang Ayu on North Shore of Unalaska Island, Alaska. NTSB/MAB-06/01. Washington, D.C., Sept. 26. Nuka Research and Planning Group, LLC. 2006. Vessel Trafï¬c in the Aleutians Subarea. Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Seldovia, Sept. Pimentel, D., L. Lach, R. Zuniga, and D. Morrison. 2000. Environmental and Economic Costs of Nonindigenous Species in the United States. Bioscience, Vol. 50, No. 1, pp. 53â65. UNCLOS. 1982. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982. www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/convention_overview_ convention.htm. Union of Concerned Scientists. 2001. Invasive Species in Alaska (adapted from D. Koons, Threats to the Last Frontier: A Report of Invasive Species to Alaska, 2001). USCG. 2007. AIS Tracking Report for 10/1/06 Through 9/30/07. U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. 2004. An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century. Final report. Washington, D.C. U.S. General Accounting Ofï¬ce. 2002. Invasive Species: Clearer Focus and Greater Commitment to Effectively Manage the Problem. Report GAO-03-1. Washington, D.C.