Science Panel Recommendation: Fund
Science Panel Comments: This proposal represents a plan to return to oiled shorelines in the Kenai Fjords and Katmai National Parks and re-sample to determine the degree of oil persistence and its state of weathering so as to provide an updated record of the degree of persistence of oil and toxicity. Five of the historically sampled (on three previous dates) sites fall within Designated Wilderness. The project will also deploy passive samplers to assess whether oil is escaping into the sea waters and thus the ecosystem from the sub-surface reservoirs of lingering contamination. The last such survey occurred 6 years ago. Costs of this project are relatively modest (178K in 2011 and 26K in 2012). This team has conducted identical surveys and related research in the past so the cost estimates presented in the detailed budget are likely accurate. The team produces partners from 3 different organizations, the National Park Service, the University of Alaska, and NOAA-Auke Bay lab. They each are experienced and well qualified for this work. This project examines beaches that differ from those already assessed in PWS in that these are high-energy beaches that would have been anticipated to promote oil weathering and degradation but surprisingly did not. The sequestering of oil in the sub-surface sediments of these beaches is thought to result from armoring by large boulders. In addition to repeating the surveys, this project proposes to assess the stability of the interlocking boulder assemblies as a mean of assessing whether that stability is involved in creating protection of buried oil from oxygen that could induce normal weathering. If true, this could suggest remediation procedures that could be subsequently tested. On balance, this project has merit and would contribute useful observations on the extent of oil disappearance and chemical weathering over the past 6 years on troublesome sites. It would also advance to some degree our understanding of how oil sequestration pe3rsists in these energetic environments. The study lacks the detailed engineering, chemistry, and process-oriented science evident in the Buofadel proposal, yet this one does have merit and is far less expensive. The PIs have done a responsible job of writing up and publishing results of the previous surveys and participated in the EVOS process broadly. The fact that these problems persist in Designated Wilderness and shores of National Parks gives special urgency to progressing towards remediation. This proposal is of value but would not be rated as high in priority as the Boufadel proposal. There is some question as to whether the 30-d strip deployment used to detect any oil release from the sub-surface pools of lingering oil is to be done for and usually only a single 30-d period, in which case the weather and wave conditions could well make the outcome non-representative. Also would repeated-measures ANOVA provide more powerful tests and more insights? Furthermore, non-parametric tests like the Wilcoxon tests proposed are typically less capable of detecting differences than normal-based statistics and usually an arcsin transformation serves well to render variances equal and thus normality-based testing justifiable. But these are just quibbles in an otherwise well designed study plan. Funding of this project is supported, which is reasonably priced with compelling budget justification, addresses an ongoing contamination issue, has potential to lead to mitigation (clean-up) measures, differs from the PWS beaches on which oil lingers in substantive ways, and affects a NPS which requires some special consideration.
Science Coordinator Recommendation: Fund
Science Coordinator Comments: I concur with the science panel's review of this project.
Public Advisory Committee (PAC) Recommendation: Not Reviewed
Public Advisory Committee (PAC) Comments: (Not Available)
Executive Director Recommendation: Fund
Executive Director Comments: This project has merit and is of interest. However, this project examines the where and why of lingering oil, while the Boufadel project squarely addresses the more immediate Council concern of what should be done. Thus I would prioritize funding of the Boufadel project.
Trustee Council Decision: Fund
Trustee Council Comments: (Not Available)