The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Shrimp from Port Valdez good eating watchdog group says

RCAC report was accepted by council’s board during early May meeting in Valdez


A watchdog group recently confirmed what a large number of shrimpers already knew: shrimp caught in Port Valdez are good eating.

And safe too according a report commissioned by Prince William Sound Regional Citizen’s Advisory Council. The report was accepted by its board during its annual meeting in Valdez earlier this month.

In a press release issued through Steve Rothschild, RCACs administrative Deputy Director, the group said it answered the question as to whether or not shrimp caught in Port Valdez are contaminated with North Slope crude oil.

RCAC, along with scientists at the National Auke Bay Lab in Juneau, conducted the study because even small amounts of hydrocarbons can potentially contaminate organisms in the port.

“Traces of hydrocarbons from the terminal and tanker operations have been detected in bay mussel and sediment samples taken in Port Valdez,” RCAC said, a problem it has been keeping tabs on for over two decades. “The council has been monitoring mussels and sediments in the region for the last 21 years.”

RCAC says small amounts of hydrocarbons from crude oil do enter the waters of the port from ballast water discharge from the water treatment facility at the terminal, but that the amount has been in decline.

“This decline is in part because decreased oil flow through the pipeline means fewer tankers. In addition, all of the tankers in Prince William Sound are now double-hulled which means that ballast water is typically separated from the oil cargo tanks and does not need to be treated at the facility,” RCAC said. “Improvements in ballast water treatment processes have further lowered the discharge of hydrocarbons from the terminal. As a result, hydrocarbons discharged into Port Valdez have decreased by about 90 percent, for some of the more toxic hydrocarbon fractions, since the early 2000’s.”

In a nutshell, the group says you can have your shrimp and eat it too.

“The short takeaway message from the study is hydrocarbon tainting of shrimp muscle is not a concern for the shrimp fishery in Port Valdez and observed concentrations do not pose a human health risk,” RCAC said.

The report can be found on the council’s website.


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