Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Risk of future Exxon Valdez declines 92% since risk assessment, safety measures, says O.R. study

10.02.2003


The danger of a future Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska’s Prince William Sound has declined substantially since the State of Alaska, environmentalists, oil companies, and the fishing industry brought together a risk management team, according to a study in a journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®).



Measures taken before the formation of the risk management team had brought down the risk by 75%. Actions taken based on the late 1990’s risk assessment report reduced the risk by an additional 68%, with a 51% reduction in the expected oil outflow. Cumulatively, the risk is down 92%. Hopefully the benefit, say the authors of the $2 million study, is the prevention of another environmental disaster like the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, whose bill was a $2.2 billion cleanup and environmental ruin.

The paper entitled "The Prince William Sound Risk Assessment" is by Jason R.W. Merrick, Virginia Commonwealth University; J. René van Dorp, Thomas Mazzuchi, John R. Harrald, John E. Spahn, The George Washington University; and Martha Grabowski, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. It appears in the current issue of the journal Interfaces: An International Journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences. A summary of the study can be found online http://www.informs.org/Press/ExxonValdezabstract.pdf.


Generating Trust Between Oil Companies and Environmentalists

The team’s task was not only making a reliable assessment of something that may never happen again - a future Alaskan oil spill - but also fostering cooperation among distrustful participants, including environmentalists, the fishing industry, and oil companies.

"While the stakeholders in [Prince William Sound] all recognized the need for a rational method to evaluate the merits of risk-intervention measures, to improve the allocation of resources, and to avoid implementing measures that would adversely affect system risk," write the authors, "they did not trust each other at the beginning of the project."

The PWS risk assessment fostered a cooperative risk-management atmosphere. The authors write, "All stakeholders finished the project convinced that they had reduced risk of further multibillion dollar accidents and, with the cooperation fostered by the collaborative analysis process, the stage has been set for further improvements in managing risk."

Constructing an Accident Probability Model

The Prince William Sound team estimated the probability of future accidents involving oil tankers, including collisions, drift groundings, powered groundings, foundering, fire, explosion, and structural failure.

The authors constructed an accident probability model that accounted for the relationships between vessels’ operating environment, triggering incidents, and accidents.

They used operational data such as vessel type and movement data from the US Coast Guard, tanker arrival and departure information from the Ship Escort/Response Vessel System (SERVS), and meteorological data from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

They also conducted surveys to obtain data about open fishing times, locations, and duration. They estimated the probability of mechanical failures using proprietary failure data supplied by local shipping companies. Because large databases of local accident and human error data did not exist, they used expert judgement to estimate the probabilities of such events. All these information sources were combined into a simulation of the Prince William Sound oil transportation system capable of evaluating the risk of oil spills.

Some of the results of the risk assessment proved surprising. Before the operations research study, for example, people believed that the area at greatest risk was the Valdez Narrows or Hinchinbrook Entrance of the Sound. The authors showed greater risk in other parts of the Sound.

And they found that the primary risk was not another future Exxon Valdez-style grounding but tanker collisions with fishing vessels that operate in large numbers during fishing seasons.

They also identified a risk of collisions between tugboats that escort tankers into harbor and tankers leaving the port. And they showed that some proposals actually worsened the risk of collision. One of these was additional weather-based closure restrictions that in fact increased traffic congestion.

In its recommendation, the team developed rules to reduce the number of potential collisions involving tankers, fishing boats, and tugs. They showed the value of improving human and organization performance through the International Safety Management program.

Key Benefits

To date the various organizations comprising the risk-management teams have taken the following actions based on the results:

  • Oil companies introduced enhanced capability tug service to escort oil-laden tankers through Prince William Sound’s Hinchinbrook Entrance.
  • The team completed a further project to find an improved escort scheme, which was adopted, minimizing interactions between oil tankers and escort tugs, while maintaining the ability to save disabled tankers.

  • The Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service now manages interactions between fishing vessels and tankers.

  • SERVS has increased the minimum required bridge crew on board escort tugs to add additional error-capture capability.

  • The International Maritime Organization has approved a change to the tanker route through central PWS, reducing the number of course changes required.

  • The shipping companies have made long-term plans for quality-assurance and safety-management programs.


The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®) is an international scientific society with 10,000 members, including Nobel Prize laureates, dedicated to applying scientific methods to help improve decision-making, management, and operations. Members of INFORMS work in business, government, and academia. They are represented in fields as diverse as airlines, health care, law enforcement, the military, the stock market, and telecommunications. The INFORMS website is at http://www.informs.org.

Barry List | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.informs.org/Press/ExxonValdezabstract.pdf
http://www.informs.org

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

nachricht Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may fight infectious disease

22.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Meter-sized single-crystal graphene growth becomes possible

22.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>