a. Storm water, wastewater, and harbor projects
Many coastal communities in the spill area have a limited ability to collect and properly dispose of waste, such as oily bilge water, used engine oil, paints, solvents, and lead-acid batteries. Improper disposal of these wastes in landfills adversely affects the quality of nearby marine waters through runoff and leaching. In some cases, these wastes are discharged directly into marine waters. Chronic marine pollution stresses fish and wildlife resources, possibly delaying recovery of resources injured by the oil spill. For example, with regard to the worldwide mortality of seabirds, the effects of chronic marine pollution are believed to be at least as important as those of large-scale spills.
The Council has approved the funding of several projects to prepare waste management plans and has contributed to their implementation. These projects resulted in the acquisition of waste oil management equipment and the construction of environmental operating stations for the drop-off of used oil, household hazardous waste and recyclable solid waste in Cordova, Valdez, Chenega Bay, Tatitlek and Whittier, Kodiak and lower Cook Inlet. The Council seeks to further reduce pollution in the marine environment to contribute to the recovery of injured natural resources or services and is considering funding this effort with ten million dollars.
b. Marine debris removal
Marine debris is an issue in the marine and near-shore environment in Alaska, where it is likely that thousands of tons of marine debris exist within three nautical miles of the Alaska coastline. Marine fish and wildlife become entangled in and ingest debris from foreign and domestic sources that may be a day or decades old and that range from small plastic items to very large fishing nets. Approximately 175 metric tons of debris was collected from Alaska coasts by citizen cleanup projects in 2007. Marine debris removal projects can result in an immediate improvement to the coastal habitat.
Coastal communities are effective in marine debris cleanups due to their intimate knowledge of the locations of debris accumulation. In addition, when communities participate in marine debris cleanups, they often alter the common practices that led to marine debris as their awareness of the effects of the debris on their coastline and the fisheries upon which they depend increases. Marine debris removal reduces marine pollution affecting injured resources and services and thus further supports natural restoration. The Council proposes to fund marine debris removal with approximately three million dollars.