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1994, Anchorage, Alaska

ANCHORAGE MEETING 28 JUNE – 1 JULY 1994 OF THE WORKING GROUP ON EMERGENCY PREVENTION, PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE

CHAIRMAN’S REPORT: Ulf Bjurman, Sweden

The Working Group on Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response in the Arctic met on ZS June – 1 July 1994 in Anchorage, State of Alaska, USA, at the invitation of the Government of USA and the State of Alaska. Delegations from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States of America (State of Alaska) participated. As part of the Meeting a tabletop exercise (RADEX 94). Emergencies involving a radiological release and a maritime incident was conducted.

The Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC), the Northern Forum and the Circumpolar Conservation Union as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were present as observers Pt the Meeting. A large number of participants and observers, in all about 100 persons, attended RADEX 94.

The Meeting was addressed by Governor Walter J. Hickel, State of Alaska, and by Commissioner John A. Sander, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

A list of participants and observers is enclosed (annex 1).

1. Opening

Mr. Mead Treadwell, Deputy Commissioner, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, welcomed the participants on behalf of Governor Hickel. The Meeting was declared opened.

2. Adoption of agenda

The draft agenda (annex 2), which was prepared at a planning meeting in Montreal on 9 May 1994 in conjunction with the Senior Arctic Affairs Officials’ Preparatory Meeting, was adopted.

3. Arctic risk assessment

The US acting as lead country presented the compiled risk assessment matrix. After discussion the matrix was updated (annex 3).

Taking into account that it had proved necessary to develop the risk assessment step by step due to the variation of circumstances to be dealt with in the Arctic countries, the Working Group decided to postpone compiling the national risk assessments into a consolidated inventory for the whale Arctic area. The Working Group further decided that each national Arctic risk assessment should cover not only risks of significant accidental trans-boundary pollution but also other risks in the Arctic area and that supplementary information therefore is to be sent to the US delegation (Ray Perry) by 1 October 1994. Points of contact for the risk assessment matrix were established (annex 4).

4. Problem identification/assessment

Prevention

The Working Group noted that it had the mandate to deal with the reduction of risk for or prevention of emergencies, which needed to be taken into account when providing the US delegation with supplementary information for the risk assessment, and that the Working Group on the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) at its meeting on 3 – 5 May 1994 had concluded that it would examine chronic sources of pollution and associated impacts. The Norwegian delegation was asked to initiate consultations in connection with the next meeting of the Marine Environmental Protection Committee of IMO between the two Working Groups in order to clarify the delineation of responsibility for work on preventive measures concerning maritime activities and discuss possible measures, for example amendments to existing agreements.

In a general discussion of future action in respect to the prevention of accidents, the State of Alaska presented a list of preventive measures which Arctic nations may consider to reduce the risk of emergencies (annex 5). The Working Group invited each delegation to send comments to (he State of Alaska by 1 December 1994 on the list as a basis for discussion and consideration of the work to be undertaken by the Working Group.

Radiological emergencies

The radiological emergencies are dealt with under agenda items 6 and 7.

Accidental marine pollution

Norway presented existing multilateral and bilateral agreements and arrangements for responding to pollution incidents (annex 6). In the following discussion it was considered appropriate to add the agreement between Denmark and the Greenland Home Rule and also the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The Working Group concluded that the existing agreements and arrangements only needed to be supplemented with certain basic requirements for the purpose of facilitating cooperation in the Arctic Area.

Industrial accidents

Sweden presented existing multilateral and bilateral agreements and arrangements for dealing with industrial accidents (annex T). In the discussion the need for technology transfer and information exchange in particular on prevention and best management practice was underlined.

Forest fires

Canada presented existing agreements and arrangements for dealing with forest fires (annex 8).

The Working Group decided to consult the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group (CAFF) concerning the possibility of establishing a common philosophy on whether and where forest fires in the Arctic area are to be fought. There was found to be a need for information exchange concerning forest fires. The Working Group recommends that the provisions on accident notification and mutual assistance in the ECE Convention on the Trans-boundary Effects of Industrial Accidents be implemented on forest fires.

Natural disasters

Canada presented a format for gathering information on natural disasters (annex 9) and suggested that such information be gathered.

The Working Group decided to request each delegation to submit the information to Canada by 1 September 1994. Canada will compile and present the results at the next meeting when further action by the Working Group will be considered. It was noted that in the event of a natural disaster the Arctic Points of Contact can be used for requests of assistance.

Search and rescue

General Ken Taylor, Commander of the Alaska Air National Guard, presented a joint Canadian, Russian and US exercise dealing with an accident involving a commercial air Liner in the Arctic which had been conducted successfully involving resources from all three countries.

The Working Group found experience from such joint activities in the Arctic of general interest and benefit for its work but considered questions concerning search and rescue to be outside the scope of the mandate for the Group.

5. Tools for operational response

Review of National Contact Points

The Working Group updated the list of National Contact Points (annex 10).

Systems for warning and networks for communication

Sweden described the international POLREP system which is to be used in general as consistent with bilateral arrangements (annex 11). The Working Group noted that the UN ECE is conducting work on the elaboration of a similar system for land accidents, the next meeting on this matter tentatively to be held the second week of September in Astrakan, Russia.

Procedures for mutual assistance/aid

The Working Group noted that procedures for mutual assistance/aid exist in the agreements and arrangements. These should be implemented as far as possible also in the Arctic cooperation.

Information directory/manual

Sweden made a general presentation of the Bonn Agreement manual and the command structure which is implemented in the existing agreements (annexes 12 and 13).

The Working Group found it useful to elaborate an Arctic directory or manual which would contain basic information needed for the Arctic cooperation, thereby avoiding the need to have to search for necessary information in the reports from Meetings. Taking into account the experience from RADEX 94 and in particular the need for finding necessary information in accident situations, the Working Group decided to establish an Arctic Accident Action Plan for this purpose. Sweden undertook to act as lead country and elaborate a draft indicating the content of such a plan for further consideration by the Working Group at its next meeting.

Field guide to response in Arctic waters

The US and Canada presented the spill response documents (annex 14) that could be used as sources of information for the elaboration of a field guide to response in Arctic waters. Finland presented the report from a workshop on combating oil in ice held in Helsinki in December 1992 and experience from an extensive exercise demonstrating equipment and methods held in Uleaborg in February 1994.

The Working Group decided to prepare a field guide. The US and Canada undertook to act as lead countries and to present a draft for consideration at the next Meeting. This will be done in cooperation with other Arctic countries in particular Norway and Finland as lead country for these issues in HELCOM.

Denmark presented exercise types implemented in different agreements for combating spills at sea (annex 15).

The Working Group decided to conduct an alarm exercise in January 1995. Norway undertook to act as lead country for the exercise.

Sensitivity mapping

Canada presented its sensitivity mapping, outlining the requirements for an integrated mapping system. Atlases for the Lancaster Sound area and the Great Lakes area were provided as examples.

After discussion of the need for a comprehensive map of the Arctic area, the Working Group concluded that development of a common system was not realistic, due to e.g. the high costs involved and difficulties in updating the data. The Working Group recommended that for preparedness and response purposes sensitive environmental resources be documented and stored in a geographical information system (GIS). It was recognized that there are large areas in the Arctic without information. However, it is important to distinguish between areas without information and areas that have low sensitivity. The Working Group found that some compatibility in protocol/systems should be encouraged to facilitate data exchange among the Arctic countries. Canada will provide its existing sensitivity maps as examples.

The Working Group decided to approach AMAP, CAFF and PAME Working Groups to obtain the necessary data on sensitive/vulnerable areas and areas of particular conservation interest to carry out the risk assessment and to recommend preventative measures. Norway undertook to provide information about the expected time when PAME is expected to have finalized its work on identification of such areas. Each country will then, depending on the needs that may remain, provide a summary of areas for which sensitive maps are currently available. Canada undertook to compile and distribute this information.

6. Tabletop exercise

A tabletop exercise, involving a radiological release and a maritime incident, was conducted under the leadership of the US. A separate report from the exercise has been made by the US.

During the exercise Professor Glenn E. Shaw, University of Alaska, Geophysical institute, in a guest speech described the effects of air pollution on the Arctic environment.

7. Evaluation of the exercise

Conclusions and recommendations were elaborated at the end of the exercise by the participants (annexes 16 and 17).

The Working Group, not having access to the final version of the conclusions and recommendations during its meeting, decided to consider these and further action at the next meeting.

8. Research and development

Arctic Marine Oil Spill Program (AMOP)

Canada presented the 1994 conference at which there were papers covering the following topics:

  • Oil in ice
  • Newfoundland Offshore Burn Experiment (NOBE) (annex 18)
  • Remote sensing
  • Skimmer development
  • Trajectory modeling
  • Oil spill case histories

Canada will make proceedings available to the delegations.

Nordic activities

Denmark presented Nordic research and development activities (annex 19). It was noted that within the Copenhagen Agreement there were plans to hold one seminar every two years on dealing with spills in ice and cold-climate conditions. The next seminars will tentatively be arranged by Norway in 1995 and Sweden in 1997.

On water testing of oil recovery

Canada and the US made presentations referring to the AMOP proceedings for documentation. Canada has made skimmer tests on 27 different models, which has lead to further research and development on all types of skimmers. The final report on these tests is expected to be available at the end of September 1994 and will be sent to each delegation. Also, Environment Canada is on an ongoing basis testing crude oils and refined products in order to update the “Oil Properties Catalogue”. Copies of this catalogue can be made available to delegations as required.

Satellite remote sensing in the Arctic area

Canada, Norway, Russia and State of Alaska presented satellite remote sensing activities in the Arctic (annexes 20 – 22). Russia would make a report available to the delegation.

The Working Group noted that substantial progress had been made in the use of satellites for surveillance of spills, that promising studies were still going an and that satellite remote sensing might have a special potential in the Arctic due to the very large geographical areas requiring surveillance coverage.

Norway presented a computer simulation training system, Norcontrol, (annex 23) and Sweden its system SpillSim. The US informed that a new computerized support system, SPEARS, which can also be used for training, is being developed and that it will be presented at the next Meeting.

9. Information exchange

No changes of organization and legislation were reported. Russia reported on a nuclear plant in the Kola, which had to close as a result of damage during heavy storms, and problems with fires in the tundra. Numerous smaller spills of oil occur and cause significant problems. Sensitivity mapping would he of great benefit for Russia. There is also a need to deal with the leaks connected with nuclear and hazardous industrial activities in the Arctic.

10. Agenda 21

The Working Group found that its further work on Agenda 21 might benefit from and was closely linked to the work of the Task Force on Sustainable Development and Utilization. The result of the first meeting of the Task Force should therefore be considered at the next Meeting. The Working Group decided to designate Laura Johnston to represent it at the Meeting of the Task Force in Yellowknife in August 1994.

11. Involvement of indigenous peoples

ICC expressed satisfaction over the establishment of cooperation between itself and the Working Group but pointed at the existing communication problems. ICC pointed out that indigenous peoples should be involved in identifying areas that are sensitive biologically and culturally as well as areas for hunting and traveling. Since indigenous peoples are already in remote Arctic areas, they can in the view of ICC help prepare and respond to emergencies. It was concluded that indigenous participation in all stages of the work concerning emergencies should be encouraged. It was agreed that the documentation of the Working Group would be sent to the indigenous group observers.

12. Joint action in appropriate international fora

The Working Group did not at present feel a need for joint action in appropriate fora. Delegates from Arctic countries should, however, present the specific needs of the Arctic area, as appropriate, in such fora.

13. Further consideration of the work plan for the Working Group

The Working Group found it necessary to have another meeting before the next Ministerial Conference and that regular meetings should be held when needed, probably once a year. Russia, subject to confirmation, invited the Working Group to hold its next Meeting in Russia, tentatively in Tiksi. The need for consultations would be covered as far as possible by meetings held in connection with other meetings, i.e. SAAO and IMO/MEPC.

14. Visit to Prudhoe Bay

The Working Group visited the Arco oil field and the Alaska pipeline in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska North Slope. Information was also given on the activities of the Alaska Clean Seas cooperative.

15. Any other business

There was no other business.

16. Adoption of summary report

The Working Group decided to have a Chairman’s Report, a draft of which would be circulated for comments beforehand.

17. Closure of the Meeting

The Chairman expressed the thanks of the Working Group to the US and State of Alaska as well as to Mr. Mead Treadwell and the other Alaska officials for providing the possibilities for a mast successful Meeting. The Meeting was declared closed.

ARCTIC ENVIRONMETNAL PROTECTION STRATEGY

Action list from Anchorage Meeting of the Working Group on Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response

1. The Working Group (WG) decided that each Arctic risk assessment should cover not only risks of significant accidental pollution but also other risks in the Arctic area and that supplementary information therefore is to be sent to the US delegate (Ray Perry) by 1 October 1994.

2. The WG invited each delegation to sent comments to the State of Alaska (Mead Treadwell) by 1 December 1994 on the list of preventive measures (Annex 5 to the Chairman’s report) as a basis far discussion and consideration of the work to be undertaken.

3. The WG decided to request each delegation to submit, using as appropriate the format for gathering information on natural disasters (Annex 9 to the Chairman’s report), information to Canada (Laura Johnston) by 1 September 1994.

4. The WG decided to establish an Arctic Accident Action Plan containing basic information needed for the Arctic cooperation. Sweden undertook to act as lead country and to elaborate a draft indicating the content of such a plan for consideration by the WG at its next Meeting.

5. The WG decided to prepare a field guide to response in Arctic waters. The US and Canada undertook to act as lead countries and to present a draft for consideration at the next Meeting. This will be done in cooperation with other Arctic countries, in particular Norway and Finland.

6. The WG decided to conduct an alarm exercise in January 1995. Norway undertook to act as lead country for the exercise.

7. Canada undertook to provide its existing sensitivity maps as examples.

8. Canada undertook to make proceedings from the 1994 AMOP Conference available to the delegations.

9. Canada undertook to send reports from skimmer tests on 27 different models to each delegation and, on request, to make available updated copies of the “Oil Properties Catalogue”.

10. Russia undertook to make available a report on satellite remote sensing activities.