Federal Funds to Eyak for Spill Response Facility
Shepard Point at the entrance of Nelson Bay, nearly 7 miles north of Cordova.
Federal money for the Native Village of Eyak will pay for construction of a road to a spill response facility at Shepard Point, north of Cordova.
Last of Three to Be Built
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) awarded $45.7 million to improve access to the Shepard Point Marine Tribal Transportation Oil Spill and Marine Casualty Response Facility, yet to be developed. 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 tribal members of the Native Village of Eyak have been stewards of the region for thousands of years. It is appropriate that we are the ones that take the steps to protect the lands and ocean,” says Native Village of Eyak Chairman Mark Hoover. “It is our responsibility to be good stewards of the region and protect our cultural heritage for the future.”
The FHWA grant marks the second time the Native Village of Eyak has been selected to receive project funding. The agency previously awarded $40 million to the village. With both grants, there is sufficient funding for project construction beyond the planning, permitting, and design funds provided by the original settlement.
The project is one of the largest Alaska tribal construction projects recently funded by the federal government. This comes from the FHWA’s Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Project program, which requires no matching funds from tribes. The grant provides federal funding for construction, reconstruction, or rehabilitation of multi-modal transportation facilities within or adjacent to federal or tribal lands.
Shepard Point will be a deep-water port with storage for 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.
A diagram of the proposed spill response facility and deep-water dock at Shepard Point.
Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and the late Congressman Don Young were instrumental in securing the funding. In addition, Governor Mike Dunleavy and the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities have been involved in establishing a right of way for the access road.
“We are extremely thankful for this grant and what it means for the project,” Hoover says. “Our communities and our neighbors in Prince William Sound will have access to critical environmental protection facilities because of this project and the funding to make it happen.”