could get there and take over or contract out
for help. The big thing is that we don’t wait.
Sometimes when we get a sheen in the harbor
we use our UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] to
locate the fuel spill and we can pretty much figure out exactly which vessel it is,” says Talbott.
With a 511-slip harbor that frequently operates at 150 percent over capacity, as well as
a commercial port to oversee, early detection
is crucial. As the saying goes, an ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure, which is
why Talbott is excited to welcome a new addition to Valdez—a state-of-the-art upland
facility and harbor basin.
According to Talbott, the extension will
add another 140 commercial slips to the harbor which will aid with the overcrowding.
But the crown jewel of the project is the up-
land facility that will be home to a bilge wa-
ter treatment facility. As Valdez’s aging fleet
continues to take on wear and tear, the need
for an onsite bilge water processing facility is
becoming ever more important.
“The new harbor is going to be sort of the
tip of the sword when it comes to marine environmental stewardship,” says Talbott. “We
will have a bilge water treatment facility on-site that will process 10,000 gallons of bilge
water a day. So a vessel will be able to pull
up and clean out their engine compartment
completely and have it a vacuumed right out
of their bilge into our treatment facility.
“They’ll also be able to take on water, recycle
their oil, and take on supplies and fuel and get
back out on fishing grounds that much faster.”
With very few points of reference for handling bilge water, the city of Valdez hasn’t yet
determined where their water will go after
being treated, but it is likely that it will get
recycled by the sewer department.
The facilities aren’t the only thing Talbott is
looking forward to. In June 2018, Valdez will
receive its first Clean Harbor Certification. Tal-
bott takes great effort to ensure that his aquatic
domain follows best management practices, so
receiving an official Clean Harbor Flag is some-
thing he is particularly proud of.
“It just tells everybody—all the harbor users—that we care about the environment and
not only do we say it, we do it. But really, it’s
not about the certification. We have salmon
in our harbor—they spawn on the side of the
walls of our harbor so we are pretty cautious
about trying to keep as many pollutants out
of the water as we can because it’s just the
right thing to do,” Talbott says.
The Alaska Department of Environmental
Conservation Division of Water Cruise Ship
Program was established in 2001 in response
to concerns about sewage and air emissions
from large cruise ships. Gradually, the program expanded to cover smaller cruise ships
and wastewater sampling, but the program
was drastically revamped by Ballot Measure 2
“What the [Ocean Rangers] do is ride on the cruise ships, and then, for example in Juneau, they
might get off one ship and immediately board another either for an import inspection or to travel
part of the voyage… During the summer season, they will do something like 1,500 observations
and daily reports. So if you look at the number of days that cruise ships are in Alaska, 60 percent
of the time there will be a Ranger on board.”
Cruise Ship Program Director, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
Hotel Hill overlooking the new commercial boat harbor in Valdez on July 12, 2017.