“Our people have served as stewards of the Prince William Sound region for thousands of years,” stated Sheri Buretta, Chairman of Chugach’s Board of Directors. “In the last three decades, Chugach, NVE, and TEC have advocated for the construction of a road and port facility at Shepard Point in Cordova to provide oil spill response services to better protect the lands, waters, and natural resources of our region.”
Since the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (EVOS) in 1989, oil spill response efforts in PWS have improved and now meet the highest standards in the world. With state and federal regulations requiring response capabilities throughout the area, PWS is better protected than ever before; however, there has been one critical missing piece: Shepard Point.
The need for an oil spill response facility at Shepard Point was outlined in the EVOS Consent Decree, which established the necessity to have three oil spill response facilities located throughout PWS. The three proposed response facilities will ensure that all areas of the sound can be protected from oil spills. Without a third and final facility at Shepard Point, the eastern half of PWS – particularly the Copper River Basin – is at greater risk for detrimental impacts from a major spill or marine accident.
“This is a historic development agreement that The Eyak Corporation has been involved in for decades. I am incredibly grateful for all the hard work by Chugach, NVE and TEC over many years to bring this important project to fruition,” TEC President and CEO Thomas Mack said.
A study of oceanic and meteorological conditions in the area around Cordova was conducted by the NVE to look at tides and water levels, sea-level trends, currents, winds, waves, and tsunamis. Results from this study identify Shepard Point as the optimal location for a response facility in the region, and the results of this study will be used to help in the design of the in-water facilities.
The official name for the facility is the Shepard Point Tribal Transportation Oil Spill Response and Marine Casualty Facility. The Facility will include a deep-water, all-tide dock, uplands facilities, and a road connecting the facility to the all-weather airport in Cordova, all of which are critical in transporting essential, out-of-region materials and personnel in the event of a significant spill.
“Our people are dependent on subsistence and commercial fishing, and improving critical rapid oil spill and marine casualty response capabilities in the area will help to safeguard our ancestral waters and the rich bounty these waters provide to our people and all Alaskans,” said Chugach President Josie Hickel. “The project will also enhance economic diversity in the area, and provide employment opportunities for Chugach shareholders, NVE tribal members, and locals.”
Construction of the Shepard Point Oil Spill Response Facility will begin in July 2023 and is expected to be completed in 2026.
About Chugach Alaska Corporation (Chugach):
Established in 1972 under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, Chugach Alaska Corporation exists to serve the interests of the Alaska Native people of the Chugach region with a focus on profitability, celebration of our heritage and ownership of our lands. Through responsible management of our lands, businesses and assets, we provide meaningful opportunities and benefits to our community of 2,900 shareholders. Chugach fulfills its mission through a range of investments and operating businesses that provide government, facilities and energy services. Learn more at www.chugach.com.
About The Eyak Corporation (TEC):
The Eyak Corporation is an Alaska Native Village Corporation formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement (ANCSA). The corporation’s mission is to return financial benefits to present and future shareholders through the development of economic opportunities and growth of assets while protecting the ownership of ANCSA lands and Native cultural heritage. More information can be found at www.eyakcorporation.com.
About the Native Village of Eyak (NVE):
The Native Village of Eyak is an Alaska Native Village mostly comprised of four distinct Alaska Native peoples (Eyak, Chugach Region People, Tlingit, and Athabaskan) who are organized together as a federally recognized tribe. The lands in this region have always been abundant lands and waters both for personal and commercial use through trading. Our traditional lands follow the boundaries set under ANCSA in 1971 and stretch across the Copper River Delta and Prince William Sound to encompass Middleton Island. There are many historical village sites across our lands, with the last traditional village annexed into the City of Cordova in the early 1900’s. Today, ancient grave sites, longhouse remnants and culturally altered vegetation attest to the rich history of our homelands. NVE supports the revitalization of our traditional languages and culture through annual events and heritage preservation which includes subsistence activities, skin sewing, weaving and beading as well as exercising our sovereign rights to self-governance through self-determination. More information can be found at www.eyak-nsn.gov.