Nuka Research has experience working on a range of projects including environmental sampling, all-hazards and oil spill contingency planning, geospatial data management and visualization, maritime risk assessment, training and exercise facilitation, and policy research and analysis.
Browse some examples of our past and ongoing work:
Risk Assessments and Related Studies
Nuka Research has conducted several risk assessments and analyses of oil spill risks from transportation by vessels and pipelines. We have also conducted several studies to assess pollution risks from various marine and terrestrial activities. We have a broad range of experience that allows us to design and conduct risk analyses and related studies to support oil spill and hazardous materials spill prevention and risk management activities.
- We analyzed vessel traffic and potential impacts in the Bering Strait region and Bering Sea.
- We developed a report on Oil Spill Occurrence Rates for Alaska North Slope Crude & Refined Oil Spills based on analyzing historical data based on oil field, spill size, and other parameters.
- We conducted the Alaska North Slope crude oil spills analysis to examine trends in past spill occurrences and develop recommendations to reduce the frequency and severity of future spills from crude oil infrastructure.
- We are leading the contracting team in the second phase of the Aleutian Islands Risk Assessment, a multi-phase effort to reduce the frequency and severity of spills from vessels transiting the Aleutians.
- We developed the Massachusetts Coastal Oil Spill Threat Analysis to provide an estimate of the marine oil spill threats by coastal community, region and waterbody based on petroleum storage and transportation.
- We led the Cook Inlet Risk Assessment to mitigate the risk of oil spills from marine vessels in the region.
- We have conducted several vessel traffic surveys, compiling and analyzing vessel transit data through various US and Canadian waterbodies. This includes the Southeast Alaska Vessel Traffic Study and a Vessel Traffic Study for the West Coast of Canada.
- We worked with the US federal government to develop an oil spill occurrence estimator for onshore spills in the US Arctic.
- We have also conducted hazardous materials commodity flow studies, examined ballast water discharge data to manage threats from invasive species, and analyzed waste stream discharges from oil production platforms.
GRP and GRS Development
Nuka Research has been the lead contractor for geographic response plan (GRP) and geographic response strategy (GRS) development in several US regions. GRP/GRSs are map-based plans that provide tactics and strategies to protect high priority areas from oil impacts. GRP/GRS development projects begin with the formation of a work group, and include site selection, field surveys, tactics development, and testing.
- We are the lead contractor for coastal GRP development and testing in Massachusetts.
- We have been developing GRS in Alaska since 1998.
- We led a GRP development and testing program for Upper Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island.
- We led an inland GRP development project for the Merrimack and Charles Rivers in Massachusetts and are currently developing GRP for rivers in Maine and New Hampshire.
Response Gap Analyses
Nuka Research pioneered the concept of a "response gap," which is used to estimate how often environmental conditions exceed the maximum operating limits of oil spill response systems. Nuka Research developed the first response gap methodology in 2006 prior to conducting the first published response gap analysis for mechanical and non-mechanical response systems in Prince William Sound, Alaska. We have since performed similar analyses for British Columbia, the Aleutian Islands, and the US Arctic Ocean. Response gap analyses require the synthesis of weather and environmental data to analyze against a set of parameters related to operating limits for spill response. They are used to inform oil spill risk management and response preparedness.
Tactical Manuals for Spill Responders
Nuka Research has developed standardized oil spill response tactics manuals that provide guidance to spill responders and planners regarding the use of response tactics to control and clean up spills and perform other spill-related activities.
- The Spill Tactics for Alaska Responders (STAR) Manual has been adopted by the State of Alaska for use by industry, spill response contractors, and agencies to plan for and manage spill response operations. In 2014, the manual was expanded to include a nearshore oil spill response strategy.
- The Massachusetts GRP Tactics Guide has become the standard for GRP development in Massachusetts and neighboring Rhode Island.
- We developed a standard guide for conducting water quality sampling to assess potential fishery impacts from oil spills.
Potential Places of Refuge Projects
Nuka Research has facilitated several projects to develop Potential Places of Refuge (PPOR) plans. PPOR are pre-identified sites that may aid decision-makers in responding to vessels in distress in order to protect sensitive areas from impacts from possible spills. PPORs are developed through a consensus workgroup.
Environmental Monitoring and Field Sampling
Nuka Research has designed and conducted environmental monitoring and field sampling programs, and we specialize in logistical support for remote areas. We have conducted field sampling programs for contaminant analysis of sediments, water column, and biota.
We have sampling technicians and data management processes to support a range of projects.
- We provided technical and logistical support to plan, design, and implement an environmental monitoring and assessment program (EMAP) in Cook Inlet, Alaska following the protocol established by EPA and utilized by other resource agencies nationwide.
- We led a comprehensive commercial fisheries sampling program during the Selendang Ayu oil spill in Unalaska.
- We conducted ground station sampling along the North Slope as part of an Alaska Shorezone field season.
Oil Spill Response Capacity Analyses
Nuka Research has performed analyses to estimate the capacity of spill response systems to handle oil spills of various sizes.
- We have performed response capacity analyses for operating areas in British Columbia and Washington, including a 2015 analysis for San Juan County.
- We contributed to a study that analyzed the response capacity for a major marine oil spill off the Washington coast.
- We performed an oil spill response equipment inventory to support the Massachusetts marine oil spill program.
Nuka Research has teamed with Coastal and Ocean Resource, Inc. (CORI) on a project to develop a digital dataset to assist with regulatory management of proposed offshore oil and gas development in the US Arctic Ocean. The ShoreZone coastal habitat mapping system provides an attribute-rich, geographic information system (GIS) that can be used to delineate habitats for habitat modeling of a wide variety of coastal species and communities. ShoreZone data and imagery is valuable to all stages of oil spill prevention, planning and response.
Emergency Management Plans
Nuka Research has developed FEMA-compliant Emergency Operation Plans (EOP), Local Hazard Mitigation Plans (LHMP), Comprehensive Emergency Management Plans (CEMP), and Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP) for communities ranging from small Alaska Native villages to large regional governments, including: City of Homer, City of Kenai, City of Soldotna, City of Seward, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Kenai Peninsula Borough, Fairbanks North Star Borough, City of Palmer, Village of Port Graham, City of Seldovia, Yukon River Intertribal Watershed Council, and Kodiak Island Borough.
Workshops and Technical Seminars
Nuka Research has organized and facilitated many workshops and technical seminars that bring together recognized experts, practitioners, regulators, and stakeholders to address a range of issues or problems. We are adept at facilitating discussions to build consensus among diverse parties. We manage logistics, develop content, recruit key particiants, and publish proceedings. Recent topics have included oil simulant materials, rescue tugs, navigational safety, community-based spill response, oil spill consequence analysis, pipeline safety, and oil spill response technology development.
Exercises, Drills, and Trainings
Nuka Research has organized, facilitated, and evaluated numerous oil spill and emergency response exercises ranging from tabletops to full-scale functional field exercises following the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP). We are the lead contractor for GRP Field Exercises in Massachusetts, and have provided field training and exercise opportunities to hundreds of oil spill first responders and tribal organizations. We have conducted oil spill exercises in Maine and Alaska, and have participated in field trials to test spill response equipment and capabilities in broken ice, open water, and nearshore operating environments.
Emergency Towing System Manual and Exercises
Nuka Research has been the lead contractor for the development of an Alaska Emergency Towing System (ETS) manual as well as planning and facilitation of large-scale exercise where the ETS has been deployed. An ETS is a pre-staged package of equipment that may be deployed in the event a disabled vessel requires assistance.
Comprehensive List of Publications and Posters
We are an active member of the U.S. oil spill prevention and reponse community, and we regularly attend local and national conferences and other academic and technical forums. We regularly publish scientific and technical articles on topics related to oil spill response policy. View a list of publications.