Making healthy people and healthy communities part of our energy future.
Every child in the U.S. is born with hundreds of toxic chemicals in their bodies. Industrial pollutants are the leading contributor to chemical illness, now rampant in the United States, and are causing alarming rates of cancer, asthma, skin infections and autoimmune disorders.
Exposure to pollutants and industrial chemicals is preventable - when communities are prepared.
The Alert Project: Our Story
Marine Toxicologist and former commercial fisherwoman Dr.Riki Ott witnessed first-hand the ecological destruction and social chaos from the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska in 1989, and became an “accidental activist” in its wake.
Ott was instrumental in supporting the community through the process of establishing the first citizen advisory council in Alaska post-spill to create citizen oversight of oil-chemical activities.
When the BP oil spill released millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, Ott brought her expertise to the frontline communities in the Gulf, where she spent one year exposing a public health crisis of chemical illness and helping to organize local communities against the threat. For the next ten years and with the help of locals, she continued to document and investigate chemical illnesses - particularly linked to oil- chemical dispersants - among the Gulf inhabitants.
In 2014, Ott founded The ALERT Project in anticipation of 2015 EPA rulemaking on dispersant use.
We focus on some of the most common pollutants in our society – oil and oil-based chemicals – and communities most at-risk from daily exposures or exposures from industrial releases or spills.
By aiming to prevent the debilitating chronic diseases that plague those most at risk, our work contributes to building public awareness and passing stronger laws to protect everyone, everywhere, from toxic oil-chemical exposures.
Health and Science: Oil-chemical Exposures and Chemical Illnesses
Environmental Justice: Tribes and Frontline Communities
We respond to invites from Tribes and communities where people believe they have been sickened by oil-chemical activities or might become sickened by proposed oil-chemical activities.
Always, we support increased scientific literacy and capacity development to skill up Tribes and communities to organize, defend and make energy choices in their own backyards.
The Law: Oil Spill Preparation and Response Planning
Where we work.
Wherever there are oil-gas activities, there are risks of toxic exposures.
Oil-chemical drilling and fracking, manufacturing, and transportation corridors for tar sands via pipelines or railways create high-risk regions across the country — threatening to affect soils, lakes, rivers, oceans and the health of communities that depend on them.
Our Projects Around the World
Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska
Between 1989 and 1997, we spearheaded a grassroots movement by forming the Alaska Oil Reform alliance, a coalition of commercial fishermen and environmental groups, and mobilizing thousands to campaign for oil reform, resulting in a series of oil reform laws and the 1990 Oil Pollution Act. Not stopping there, we continued to advocate for tighter oil policy through the community-led activism, such as the 1993 fishermen’s blockade of Valdez Narrows, and the foundation of Alaska Forum for Environmental Responsibility
In March 2014 we conducted a 25th-year memorial tour of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, organized by communities in Alaska and Vancouver, BC reflecting on improvements and unfinished business as a call to action for citizen advisory councils and more.
Since 1989, we have been fighting for oil policy reform and mobilizing community voices in areas impacted by oil-gas activities across the country.
Riki Ott, PhD, is a marine toxicologist and former commercial fisherma’m who experienced the trauma and devastation of the Exxon Valdez oil spill firsthand. This became a vehicle for personal growth and her work in front-line communities to enhance public awareness of the enormous socio-economic costs of our oil dependency.
Ott blogs for Huffington Post, has written several books on socio-economic impacts of oil disasters, and appeared in award-winning documentaries on the nation’s largest maritime oil disasters ('Black Wave' and 'Dirty Energy').
In 2010, Ott was runner up for Huffington Post’s Game Changer in the Environment award for her volunteer work in Gulf coast communities after the BP disaster. In 2015, she received the Grace Lee Boggs Award from the Make It Safe Coalition for her work empowering people to have a voice in energy choices in their own backyard.
Ott earned her doctorate in 1985 from the University of Washington School of Fisheries with an emphasis on the effects of heavy metals on benthic invertebrates. She earned her Masters of Science from the University of South Carolina, SC, Baruch Institute in marine biology with emphasis on effects of oil on zooplankton.
National Tribal Emergency
Alaska Community Action on Toxics
Alaska Inter-Tribal Coalition
Prince William Sound Regional
Citizens’ Advisory Council
Center for Biological Diversity
UC Berkeley Law School
Earth Island Institute
Government Accountability Project
SE Environmental Task Force
Alliance for the Great Lakes
Southeast Side Coalition
to Ban Petcoke
Texas Environmental Justice
Mobile Environmental Justice
NAACP Mobile County Branch #5044
Sierra Club Delta Chapter,
South Bay Communities Alliance
Louisiana Shrimpers Association
Vietnamese Boat People – SOS