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  6.  | Construction Begins on Shepard Point Spill Response Base

Construction Begins on Shepard Point Spill Response Base

Aug 2, 2023 | Alaska Native, Environmental, News

Site preparation is underway for an oil spill response facility north of Cordova.

Chugach Alaska Corporation

A groundbreaking ceremony on July 14 marked the start of construction at Shepard Point, north of Cordova, for an oil spill response facility.

The Last of Three

The official name is the Shepard Point Tribal Transportation Oil Spill Response and Marine Casualty Facility. When complete, it will include a deep-water dock, uplands facilities, and a road connecting 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.

The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill consent decree identified a need for three such response facilities to protect Prince William Sound. The other two have already been constructed, and Shepard Point would be the third.

The Federal Highway Administration awarded $45.7 million to the Native Village of Eyak (NVE) last year to help pay for the project, on top of an earlier $40 million grant to the tribal government. The project is one of the largest Alaska tribal construction projects recently funded by the federal government.

The Eyak Corporation (TEC) and Chugach Alaska Corporation are also supporting the project.

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“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,” says TEC CEO Thomas Mack.

NVE conducted a study of oceanic and meteorological conditions in the Cordova area to look at tides and water levels, sea-level trends, currents, winds, waves, and tsunamis. The results pointed to Shepard Point as the optimal location for a response facility, and the study is also informing the design of the in-water facilities.

“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,” says 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.”

Deep-Water Access

Diagram of spill response facility at Shepard Point

A diagram of the proposed spill response facility and deep-water dock at Shepard Point, nearly 7 miles north of Cordova at the entrance of Nelson Bay.

Native Village of Eyak

Shepard Point is meant to store materials needed to respond to marine accidents, transportation incidents, and other situations that arise, both in Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Alaska. Cordova lost its deep-water port because of the uplift during the 1964 earthquake. The need for a deep-water port at Shepard Point became more evident during the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, when the Valdez airport was shut down for days at a time and Cordova’s all-weather airport was not as useful because of the inability to deploy materiel onto the water.

“Our people have served as stewards of the Prince William Sound region for thousands of years,” says Chugach Board Chairman Sheri Buretta. “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.”

Construction is expected to be completed in 2026.

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June 2024
Welcome to the June 2024 issue, which features our annual Transportation Special Section. We've paired it this year with a focus on the Pacific Northwest and Hawai'i, as Alaska has close ties to both that reach far beyond lines of transportation. Even further out past our Pacific Ocean compatriots and our Canadian neighbors to the east, Alaska's reach extends to India and Singapore. Enjoy this issue that explores many of Alaska's far-flung business dealings.
Shepard Point in Alaska
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