Help Prevent Oil Spills In Alaska’s Coastal Waters!

An oil-soaked sea otter in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge

Once again, AlaskaÂ’s pristine waters have fallen victim to a devastating oil spill. On December 8, 2004, a Malaysian freighter, Selendang Ayu, ran aground in the Aleutian Islands after its engine failed in severe weather. Six humans were lost and at least 40,000 gallons of oil leaked into one of the worldÂ’s most remote and ecologically rich wildlife refuges, the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. This was the worst oil spill in U.S. waters since the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge is home to a wide array of sea birds and marine mammals, and is part of the rich North Pacific fishery, which generates nearly $2 billion in revenue each year. Based on the legacy of the Exxon spill, we know this disaster will have a lasting impact on endangered marine species.

What’s clear from the tragedy in the Aleutians, is that Alaska’s shipping routes need stronger regulations in place. The Selendang Ayu was traveling one of the world’s most heavily trafficked routes – and ran aground in an area so remote that it was nearly impossible to rescue human victims in a timely manner and limit damage to threatened marine life.

Call upon Congress to require ships using Alaskan routes to meet minimum safety standards, and operate with well-trained crews and adequate resources to respond quickly to emergencies. Alaskan waters deserve at least these basic protections!

Dear [Your Congressman],

I am writing to encourage you, as my elected representative, to learn from the circumstances of the recent Selendang Ayu shipping accident in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. We cannot let disastrous oil spills such as this, or those of similar magnitude to the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989, happen again. This tragedy exemplifies that there is a real need to balance human safety and animal health in the Aleutian Islands and the Great Circle Shipping Route. It also shows that we need to exercise extreme caution in opening any refuge areas to human activity as this spill provides a clear example of the consequences.

Protecting Alaska’s coastal waters from devastating oil spills is important because:
[your comment]

A congressional investigation is essential to establishing the measures that need to be put in place to mitigate the negative impact of shipping traffic on Alaska's vital resources. These measures should include requiring ships that use Alaska’s coastal waters to have double hulls or hulls with minimum hull thickness and strength; meet minimum safety standards; provide sufficient training for crews; and possess adequate financial resources to ensure that teams are fully equipped and able to respond quickly in emergencies.

Thank you for considering my comments.


[Your name]
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