U.S., Canada practice spill response on maritime border

Posted: Thursday, September 27, 2007

KETCHIKAN - The Portland Canal is an interesting wterway.

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The U.S.-Canada maritime border runs along the center of the canal as it winds its long and narrow passage from Portland Inlet to the Hyder-Stewart area.

That raises some interesting questions, tackled by more than 100 people at a recent gathering in Ketchikan. Suppose a cargo ship runs aground on an island in the middle of Portland Canal. Suppose the ship starts spilling fuel.

Who responds? Which nation has jurisdiction? Can the two countries' emergency response systems react in a coordinated way? And if so, how?

Those questions and others were raised at the biannual Canada-U.S Dixon Entrance exercise last week.

Attendees of the five-day event included representatives of the U.S. and Canadian coast guards, shipping industry, a variety of U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, and State of Alaska and British Columbia provincial agencies.

Wagner said the exercise is designed to involve as many agencies as possible so that issues that might surface during an incident affecting both countries can be resolved.

The exercise is held every two years and rotates between the United States and Canada.

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