54 Alaska Business | May 2018 www.akbizmag.com
Neffective at different times of the year and in different conditions, Pegau explains.
Oil Spill Canines
Another major project OSRI spearheaded
was an innovative method to identify lingering oil buried in the beaches along the Prince
William Sound. While dogs are by no means
“new technology,” Pegau thought it was important to test the abilities of professionally
trained canines and handlers to identify oil
in places where other methods of monitoring
for hydrocarbons were failing.
The idea of testing the dogs in the Sound
came after Pegau heard OCC’s Owens speak
at a conference about his use of oil-sniffing
dogs. Owens had been developing the idea
over the last few years after being inspired
by the work of a Norwegian chemist who
trained his own dogs to identify oil.
OSRI was able to put together the funds for
Owens to test the dog’s capabilities at Prince
William Sound in May 2016.
“The testing went better than expected,”
Pegau says. There was uncertainty about how
the dogs would perform because the oil was
not in good communication with the atmosphere or ocean, which was also why it was
not naturally breaking down.
“I do shoreline assessments surveys for oil
spills. One of the troubles/difficulties/chal-lenges we have is finding subsurface oil,” Owens says. “Dogs are a new tool; they streamline
the process. They really help us go quicker...
We took someone else’s idea and ran with it.”
The people Owens works with have been
training dogs for years to detect mines and
other unexploded ordnance, supplying the US
Military with such canines. The dogs’ noses
are so sensitive that they are able to distinguish
between oils, allowing SCAT survey teams to
hone in on exactly what they are looking for.
Through double-blind testing, research
conducted with OSRI, and even in real response efforts in Canada, the dogs have
proved their value.
“Apart from finding oil, one of their valuable attributes is to clear areas that don’t have
oil. When we do surveys, we spend 50 or
more percent of our efforts on making sure
there is no oil,” Owens says, noting that while
a traditional SCAT team does spot sampling
for sub-surface oil, the dogs are able to do
100 percent searches and still be significantly
faster. “It’s like a lot of things we have: they’re
one of our survey tools, just like a drone.”
Edison Chouest Offshore Gearing Up
Though the dogs’ ability to sniff out oil in
the Prince William Sound is an exciting development, the biggest news floating into the
Sound comes in the form of fourteen custom-built ships operated by Edison Chouest Off-shore (ECO) destined to take over for an existing fleet that provides services to Alyeska
Pipeline Service Co. late this summer.
The new fleet will be comprised of four
general purpose tugs, five escort tugs, one
utility tug already in the ECO fleet, and four
oil spill response barges.
Each oil spill response tug will be equipped
with two 100-disc Crucial skimming systems.
A trained sniffer dog
searches for lingering
oil buried in the
beaches along the
Prince William Sound
in May 2016.
Oil Spill Recovery