Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

November 13, 2013

Alaska Natives demand halt to erosion of Clean Water Act

Alaska Environmental Alliance condemns federal agency conduct: Chemical dispersant pre-authorization plans are move to erode the power of Clean Water Act

Media Advisory November-Nov 13 -- 17, 2013

The Alaska Regional Response Team (ARRT), a federal inter-agency body tasked with formulating response plans to oil and hazardous substance discharges in Alaska, are holding public meetings in five hub Alaskan regions this week to present their revised oil spill response plans. The first meeting, scheduled in King Salmon, Alaska on Wednesday, November 13, will present information on plans that give pre-authorization for the spraying and injection of the same controversial chemical dispersants used on the 1989 Exxon Valdez and 2010 Gulf of Mexico British Petroleum (BP) Oil Spills, to be used in Alaskan waters.

The Alaska Inter-Tribal Council and the Change Oil Spill Response Global Alliance-Alaska Delegation, say Tribal Nations, fisherman and concerned citizens vehemently oppose the plan because it erodes the regulatory power of the Clean Water Act.  In a widely distributed Public Notification to Tribal Governments and Alaskan citizens, they explain that U.S. policies and laws mandating government to government consultation with Tribal Nations on such plans are being undermined and short circuited by the ARRT.
The ARRT’s ‘questionable Tribal Consultation process’, planned to begin on Nov 13th, “is a misuse of public funds to force through approval of the Coast Guard’s dispersant use plans setting a dangerous precedent for inappropriate government to government consultation with Federally Recognized Tribes” said Walter Parker, an Arctic expert with 40 years experience in oil & gas oversight.  “Chemical Dispersant use in oil spill response should be retired globally as obsolete, and is especially inappropriate for Alaska, since they are ineffective in frigid waters” he continued.
The Public Notification educational materials distributed to more than 250 potentially impacted Tribal and Fishing communities illustrate that human rights violations are taking place through the ARRT’s inept Tribal engagement processes.  According to the documents, the pre authorization plans would allow for the use of chemical dispersants over the objections of Tribal authorities and environmental groups in the event of an oil spill.
I.  See attached documents for details.
II. See ARRT website for meeting information at:
Any proposal for the use of chemical dispersants requires that the following questions be addressed by the inter-agency ARRT presenting their dispersant plans for discussion:
a.      Of greatest importance in oil spill response is rapid reduction of oil toxicity and its impact on ecosystems and threat to human health. Dispersants do not remove oil or reduce toxicity of the oil but increase it, how does the revised plan address this?
b.      Based on 2012 DOI testing and other science we have reviewed, dispersants are not effective in frigid waters below a certain temperature.  How does your plan overcome that?
c.       How will dispersants applied by aerial and/or other application methods not impact marine life, coastal and up-river communities?
d.      Since dispersants do not remove oil and its most toxic compounds but instead sink and disperse them into the water column increasing absorption capacity and ingestion by marine life, how is this addressed in the plan?
e.      How will chemical dispersants not impact Customary and Traditional and Modern Life-ways of hunting, fishing, gathering ability to navigate and access clean water?
f.        What non-toxic alternatives can be used to replace chemical dispersants invented by and/or owned by the major oil companies? (LAEO’s research has found technology that does indeed exist to truly detoxify and swiftly clean up an oil spill, and that technology is being successfully used in many parts of the world today.)
g.      How does the use of chemical dispersants comply with the Clean Water Act?  (see: )
(Note: See also study/position paper at: which is based on multiple scientific studies cited indicating unquestionable food chain, ecosystem and human health impacts of dispersants.)      If any proposed chemical dispersant guidelines do not meet the criteria at: for selecting products for oil spill cleanup, they should not be approved.  
See Attached Materials for more details:
1.       Briefing to Tribes-Urgent Action Required, Fed Agency Undermine of Tribal Government Authority
2.      Tribal Exclusion Fact Sheet
3.      An Open Letter to Oil Spill Response Professionals
4.      Sample Tribal Resolution to Ban Chemical Dispersants (11 Resolutions passed and enacted thus far)
5.      A Case Against Chemical Dispersants
Nikos Pastos-Center for Water Advocacy,
AI-TC and Alaska Delegation Spokesperson
Carl Wassilie-Yup'iaq Biologist
Diane Wagenbrenner
VP Special Project Operations
Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization
COSR Global Alliance Media Relations
Ph: 858-531-6200
See ARRT Website Meeting Schedule/Agendas at:

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