Reduce unlawful oil and hazardous substance contamination in the environment.
- Protect public health and the environment by identifying, overseeing, and conducting the cleanup, redevelopment, and management of contaminated sites in Alaska.
- Protect public safety, public health, and the environment and ensure that producers, transporters, and distributors of crude oil and refined oil products prevent oil spills, and are fully prepared materially and financially to clean up spills.
- Manage the Oil and Hazardous Substance Release Prevention and Response Fund as a viable, long-term funding source for the state's core spill prevention and response initiatives and provide administrative support services to the Divisions programs.
|Mission Results||Core Services|
|Mission Results||Core Services|
|Mission Results||Core Services|
|A: Result - Protect public health and the environment by identifying, overseeing, and conducting the cleanup, redevelopment, and management of contaminated sites in Alaska.|
|A1: Core Service - Protect public health and the environment by identifying, overseeing, and conducting the cleanup, redevelopment, and management of contaminated sites in Alaska.|
Target #1: Restore 150 contaminated sites for use each fiscal year.
Analysis of results and challenges: Contaminated sites are properties where oil or hazardous substance spills occurred in the past or where new spills cannot be quickly cleaned up. Much of the contamination addressed by the Contaminated Sites program is underground and extremely difficult and/or expensive to completely remove from the environment.
When the Division of Spill Prevention and Response determines that active cleanup at a site is complete and unrestricted use standards are met, a Cleanup Complete determination is issued that indicates the property is restored for use and no further response actions or oversight are necessary. In instances where cleanup efforts are not successful in removing all potentially harmful contamination, but where the remaining contaminants can be managed in-place in a manner that will not pose unacceptable risks to people or the environment, the Division may approve the cleanups as protective as long as effective institutional controls are established. This allows the property to be put back into use with limitations on activities that could result in exposure. Such sites are identified as “Cleanup Complete with Institutional Controls” and are monitored to ensure conditions to control exposure remain effective over time. If the institutional controls are not maintained, further actions are implemented. If unrestricted use cleanup levels are met, institutional controls can be removed and no further response or oversight actions are necessary.
From FY2012 through FY2015, the number of site closures remained at or above the target level. The reduction seen in FY2016 through FY2018 is largely the result of an intentional shift of staff oversight from medium and lower priority sites to higher priority sites with significant human and ecological risks. Achieving closure for these high priority sites is typically more challenging and requires longer periods of time, resulting in fewer site closures per year. Cleanup of complex sites with recalcitrant contaminants is more expensive and often requires years or even decades to complete.
The Division has also worked to improve the process for assessing site cleanup, ensuring consistency across sites, and establishment of all necessary institutional controls before a site is closed. This helps protect human health and the environment, but may also slow closure decisions
Regardless of priority status, more than two thousand open sites remain on the Division’s inventory. When responsible parties lack sufficient financial resources, little or no cleanup occurs unless the State or EPA take the lead, which only happens on the highest priority sites that pose an imminent and substantial risk to human health or the environment. Local government and village contaminated sites such as tank farms, leaking underground storage tanks, and blighted properties all pose real impacts to both human and economic health in communities. In an era of declining budgets, local governments have few resources to clean up these properties. Likewise, forward progress is challenging on remote orphan sites such as abandoned mines, canneries, and dumpsites where no viable responsible party exists, but ecological, recreational, and subsistence impacts are present. For many homeowners across the state, heating oil spills pose potential health concerns and have damaged property values, but cleanup costs are so high that many homeowners cannot afford to clean them up without a signicant financial burden and potentially the threat of bankruptcy. The Department anticipates more progress on cleanup of home heating oil spills as a result of recently passed legislation that allows cost recovery of state oversight costs to be waived on these sites, as well as funding being allocated to assist with cleanups for those homeowners with greatest need.
|B: Result - Protect public safety, public health, and the environment by preventing oil and hazardous substance releases, and mitigating the effects of those releases from regulated and non-regulated sources through planning, preparedness, and rapid response.|
|B1: Core Service - Protect public safety, public health, and the environment and ensure that producers, transporters, and distributors of crude oil and refined oil products prevent oil spills, and are fully prepared materially and financially to clean up spills.|
Target #1: 100% of high risk and 20% of non-high risk contingency plan holders are inspected or evaluated for oil discharge prevention annually.
Analysis of results and challenges: Regulated facilities and vessel operators in Alaska are required to have an approved oil discharge prevention and contingency plan in place before they are allowed to operate. These contingency plans outline the various steps and procedures in place to prevent oil discharges and the actions that would be taken in the event of a discharge to implement prompt and effective containment and cleanup of the area. The Division regularly inspects these plan holders to ensure the procedures in place are sufficient to prevent or respond to an emergency situation. Preventing oil spills is the best means of protecting the environment and public health. In the event of a discharge, a prompt and effective detection and response significantly reduces the adverse impacts on the environment and public health.
Facilities and vessels designated as High Risk in the state include: those with new contingency plans; exploration, production, and refinery facilities; those with spills over 50 gallons; those with formal enforcement actions based on operations violations; and those that would have significant impacts to human health or the environment if there were a failure.
The Department acknowledges all facilities or vessels required to have a contingency plan represent some level of inherent risk to the state of Alaska, even if not identified as high risk. Auditing, inspecting, or testing of these perceived low-risk facilities and their contingency plans is important to verify ongoing prevention and response readiness.
In FY2018, there were a total of 138 regulated plan-holders, representing a net decrease of ten plan-holders from the prior fiscal year. 57 plan-holders were identified as high-risk, 9 fewer than the previous year. An additional 9 of those plan-holders, while classified as High Risk and with an approved oil discharge prevention and contingency plan from the Department, were not operating during FY2017 and therefore could not be inspected or drilled. 81 plan-holders were identified as non-high risk, a decrease of one plan-holder from the previous year. The percent of inspections or response exercises conducted on High Risk plan holders increased from 30% in FY2017 to 40% in FY2018. Oversight of non-high risk facilities exceeded the 20% benchmark for the sixth year in a row.
The oil discharge prevention and contingency plan 5-year renewals come in cycles, with more renewals in some years than others. FY2018 represents a heavy year; 43 new plans, plan renewals, or major plan amendments were approved in FY2018, compared to 47 in FY2017 and 36 approvals issued in FY2016. The increased workload associated with plan review during FY2018 limited program staff’s ability to conduct field inspections. During FY2018 the Program also saw a substantial change in program staff with 13 employees leaving the Program compared to 8 in FY2017. With such significant turnover, staff were focused primarily on completion of plan reviews and emergency spill response.
We continue to hold training in plan review, inspections, conducting response exercises, and response actions; the Division anticipates continued improvement towards meeting this target with stable staffing.
Target #2: No active spill cases are more than 5 years old and the number of cases older than 2 years account for less than 15% of the total number of currently active cases.
Percentage of Past Spills Under Active Management
Analysis of results and challenges: Rapid containment and cleanup of oil and hazardous substance spills reduces the negative impacts to public safety, public health, and the environment by minimizing exposure to these contaminants. The Division’s goal is to ensure spills are controlled, contained, and removed as they occur in order to protect human health and prevent extensive and costly damage to water sources, fish and wildlife, and adjoining properties all across the state. Cases with complex factors that prevent rapid and/or complete recovery of the spilled material are turned over from the Prevention, Preparedness, and Response program to the Contaminated Sites program for long-term remediation.
The total number of new spills reported in FY2018 decreased 89 from the previous year, and there were 88 fewer cases closed this past fiscal year than in the previous. However, 82 spills were transferred to Contaminated Sites Program in FY2018, which is 42 more than last year. The result was an overall decrease of active cases managed by the Prevention, Preparedness, and Response program, which is primaily what increased the percentage of old sites under active management in the attached graph..
There are several factors contributing to the decrease in active cases during FY2018. The Prevention, Preparedness and Response Program updated performance measures in FY2015 to encourage the transfer of cases which could not be addressed through immediate emergency response to the Contaminated Sites Program. The Contaminated Sites Program is better suited to protect human health and the environment during long term remediation and cleanup activities. Program staff are working diligently to transfer cases rapidly to the Contaminated Sites Program. Policies are under development to optimize the management of old, open emergency response cases. The implementation of those policies will help the program reach the target of cases older than 2 years accounting for less than 15% of active cases.
|C: Result - Manage the Oil and Hazardous Substance Release Prevention and Response Fund as a viable, long-term funding source for the state's core spill prevention and response initiatives and provide administrative support services to the Divisions programs.|
|C1: Core Service - Manage the Oil and Hazardous Substance Release Prevention and Response Fund as a viable, long-term funding source for the state's core spill prevention and response initiatives and provide administrative support services to the Divisions programs.|
Target #1: SPAR will bill at least 75% of cost recoverable sites
Analysis of results and challenges: At the end of FY2018, there were 2,631 active cost recoverable sites with 592 sites in suspended billing status. 170 of the suspended are home heating oil tank sites that are eligible for cost recovery exemption as a result of recently passed legislation. Of the 2,039 sites not in suspense, only 488 have a balance due. Based on FY2018 cumulative data, the Response Fund Administration Program (RFA) billed 82% of cost recoverable sites, which has remained consistent from last year. The Program has met Target #1 and may explore options for modifying the target in the future.
Analysis of results and challenges: During FY2016 and FY2017, RFA conducted a comprehensive audit and research effort in order to identify a responsible party (RP) for sites that lacked a billable party in order to cost recover on those sites. This effort has led to a significantly increased billing rate compared to prior years; the strong progress has continued in FY2018.
There are numerous reasons why cost recovery sites are not billed. For example, many sites do not have a viable responsible party identified or may be considered a State of Alaska-owned site. Some Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) owners are grant recipients that are acting in good faith under Section 4, CH 96 SLA1990 and are therefore not billed. Sites we are unable to bill are categorized by reason. There are approximately 68 active sites that remain historically not billed but are still under investigation by RFA. During FY2018 we identified 14 historically unbilled sites, determined viable RP’s, and began to actively bill them.
Target #2: SPAR will recover at least 50% of billable costs
Analysis of results and challenges: In FY2018, RFA invoiced $2.13 million in billable costs, excluding costs relating to sites that are formally and informally referred to Department of Law. The Program recovered $1.69 million pertaining to those billings. SPAR recovered almost 80% of billable costs, which is a 29% increase from FY2017. RFA has met Target #2 and may explore options for modifying the target in the future.
Analysis of results and challenges: During FY2016 and FY2017, significant procedural efforts were made by the Program to actively pursue recovery on delinquent accounts with high balances. Greater outreach to RPs, easier access to payment plan options and cost recovery information to RPs, and program manager involvement on site billing status all contributed to a substantially lessened delinquency rate and a higher recovery rate than in prior years. These efforts continued in FY2018 by improving collection efforts relating to state owned sites, coordinating a more comprehensive outreach effort to communicate with RPs, and more accessible alternative payment arrangements for responsible parties who have difficulty paying invoices.
There are numerous reasons why billable costs are not recovered. An RPs inability to pay is the primary reason. In FY2017, RFA, in partnership with Department of Law, established an internal “inability to pay process” that involves negotiations with the RP to recover partial costs and/or establish an installment payment plan. In FY2018, the Program further refined that process to include making ability-to-pay determinations for individuals and businesses by using EPA financial modeling software. Other reasons for low recovery rates relate to third party liability issues, unclear RP determination, and disputed liability. It can take a significant amount of time while RFA consults with the project manager, Department of Law, and the RP to determine who the proper RP is and verify liability. Regulations explaining this process and establishing an interest rate for overdue payments were finalized during FY2016; interest accrual on unpaid invoices was implemented in June 2016.
Current as of November 16, 2018