Spill responders, state and federal agencies, and responsible parties have all acknowledged the fact that the permits, forms, and applications required to mount an effective oil spill response can often slow down the response progress or lead to unnecessary confusion. In Alaska, there are forms in use that are copies of copies of forms that have not been updated in years. In other cases, standard agency forms that are available as Word documents have been slightly modified by various users over time. Some forms appear unnecessary in the response effort and may well be carryovers from other venues. This problem has been exacerbated as many Alaska state agencies have reorganized and in some cases, permitting authorities have been transferred.

The Spill Response Permits Project was initiated by the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council (CIRCAC) in response to a common concern, voiced by response organizations, responsible parties, and state and federal agencies, that the paperwork burden associated with an Alaska oil spill response is excessive. CIRCAC provided initial funding to form a work group of industry, agency, and response organization representatives that would be charged with taking a fresh look at Alaska's spill permitting requirements. The work group, co-chaired by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the US Coast Guard, and the Tesoro Alaska Company, began by identifying all oil spill response activities that might generate the need to fill out a permit or authorization form. Next, they inventoried and collected the most up-to-date versions of all permits. Work group participants, including oil spill response cooperatives as well as state and federal agencies with permitting authority, then reviewed all forms and deleted outdated or duplicated requirements.

Once the list of permits had been updated, the work group then developed a computer-based organizational tool that could be used to sort, fill out, submit, and file applicable permit forms during an oil spill response or exercise. The computer interface allows the user to enter incident-specific information into a central data set, so that the data may then be exported to the required permit forms with a simple mouse click. The computer tool can be run on any computer platform, with files available for download from the Internet or stored on a CD-Rom. The tool uses the Adobe Acrobat® software application and fills out and stores permit forms in Adobe portable document format (PDF). Additional information about this ongoing project is available at http://www.akgrs.net/Circac/home.htm.

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