Donation boosts oil-spill response gear

If an oil spill hits Glacier Bay, there’s a better chance of cleaning it up.

The Southeast Alaska Petroleum Resource Organization has cached additional oil spill-response equipment at the Gustavus Airport, not far from the mouth of the bay.

Organization General Manager Dave Owings says it’s funded by Princess Cruises, which sails into the bay.

“They approached us probably a year and a half or maybe two years ago now and asked what they could do to help increase the response capability in the Glacier Bay area,” Owings says.

The cache is a 20-foot container loaded with 2,000 feet of oil boom and related equipment. Owings says Princess’ donation is valued at just under $50,000.

He says the container is designed to be lifted and carried in a helicopter net.

“This was something we did several years ago and demonstrated it could work. It’s a very efficient and quick way to get equipment and, if needed, people to some of the remote places in and around Glacier Bay National Park,” he says.

The new gear adds to other spill-response equipment already staged in the area. That includes a response barge with a skimmer, a work boat, oil booms and other supplies and equipment.

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is about 50 miles west of Juneau, on the north shore of Icy Strait.

The petroleum resource organization, known as SEAPRO, has spill-response supplies and equipment stored in most Southeast communities.