The Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council (Cook Inlet RCAC), Alaska Department of Environment Conservation (ADEC) and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) implemented the Cook Inlet Risk Assessment in 2011-2014 to examine the risk of oil spills posed by the marine vessels transiting through or within the region.
The risk assessment examined the types and sizes of vessels plying Cook Inlet and dominant accident types in attempt to identify future oil spill risks based on vessel size, type, and frequency. The first phase of the risk assessment applied a semi-qualitative analysis. The study relied primarily on historical data, expert opinion, and lessons learned from prior studies. The results of the first phase were used to provide a basis for the identification and initial ranking of risk reduction measures. In the second phase of the project, the Advisory Panel developed recommended risk reduction options that should be sustained, enhanced, or initiated for Cook Inlet. Additional technical analyses and research informed these recommendations.
The interest in maintaining safe maritime navigation in the Cook Inlet Regions had been a high priority for the Cook Inlet RCAC, ADEC and USCG. In 1999, the Cook Inlet RCAC sponsored a Safety of Navigation Forum with the goal of identifying steps that can be taken to prevent oil spills. In 2000, the USCG sponsored a Ports and Waterway Safety Assessment of the Cook Inlet Region, which identified risks and potential mitigation measures. In February 2007, the Cook Inlet RCAC sponsored the Cook Inlet Navigational Safety Forum with the goal to share information about Cook Inlet navigational risks and discuss possible interventions to reduce the risk of vessel casualties and oil spills. The primary consensus points reached at the forum were:
(1) Cook Inlet RCAC should move forward with a risk assessment,
(2) Engaging in the political process will be necessary to obtain funding, and
(3) Public participation and outreach will be critical to the success of the risk assessment.
The CIRA was funded through a legislative appropriation by State of Alaska which was administered by the Kenai Peninsula Borough and Cook Inlet RCAC and a federal appropriation administered by the USCG.