Our Accomplishments

Since 1989, we have been fighting for oil spill policy reform and mobilizing community voices in areas impacted by oil-gas activities across the country.

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Trained 15,000+ people over 18 regional tours
On the ground at our nation’s three largest oil spills
10 years of investigative research in the Gulf
Filed lawsuits and petitions
Contributed to Oil Pollution Act of 1990 & Alaska oil spill laws

We have traveled the United States and internationally training and mobilizing front line communities with accessible science, health education and legal action tools to better prepare communities for oil spill response and protect from toxic exposure during oil-chemical disasters.

Our work is informed by the model created by our Founder, Riki Ott, after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.
Here's our impact story.
2010

April 20

Blowout of British Petroleum's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico resulting in the nation’s largest oil spill – over 220 million gallons of crude oil – and use of over 2 million gallons of hazardous chemical dispersants in a failed attempt to mitigate damage

May

Riki invited to speak at a three-day potlatch, hosted by Haisla Nation in Kitimat, BC, and “birthed” with founding members into a new Solidarity Clan of First Nations with unceded territory along the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline corridor

2010-11

May-April

Riki traveled to the Gulf Coast communities following the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill to coach people on what to anticipate, how to recognize symptoms of exposure to oil and chemical dispersants and how to collect evidence of harm – ultimately triggering a joint EPA and U.S. Dept. of Justice investigation to gather citizen science for the federal civil lawsuit against BP and contributing to public recognition of specified acute and chronic medical “conditions” for compensation under the BP class action medical benefits settlement

2011

July

Launched first tar sands oil spill tour in Michigan communities, organized by citizens harmed by the 2010 Enbridge tar sands pipeline spill into Battle Creek and the Kalamazoo River; shared experiences with other oil disasters and gained experiences from tar sands-diluent (dilbit) exposures – ultimately resulting in supplement to 2012 EPA petition (2014)

2012-2016

Launched a series of consecutive spring and fall Gulf Coast tours in five states harmed by BP disaster to document ongoing harm to people’s health and give workshops about toxic exposures and chemical illnesses, resulting in the development of accessible science for frontline communities “Train the Trainers” curriculum with a Toxic Trespass Training Manual and Health Advocacy Guide

2012

August

Launched Think Tanker Tour in southern coastal BC, organized by Haida and Haisla First Nations, environmental groups and municipalities, resulting in a change to more progressive leadership during fall elections

November

Organized coalition of citizens from national tours to petition EPA to update the National Contingency Plan regarding rules governing dispersant use

2013

April

Launched Lone Star Tour, organized by Texas Tar Sands Blockaders and others, resulting in a comprehensive grassroots strategic plan for oil transition and the first Texas town to ban fracking within city limits (resulting in a protracted political battle

April

Invited to speak at Mayflower town hall about anticipated harm to human health and property from Exxon tar sands pipeline spill in Mayflower and human rights, and to learn about data and studies linking fracking with earthquakes in Arkansas and Oklahoma

May

Riki Ott’s TEDx talk about political activism

2014

March

Launched 25th-year memorial tour of 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.

May-July

Launched a Gulf Coast to Great Lake tour up the Mississippi River to investigate whether BP-funded health clinics along the Gulf Coast were treating people for chemical illnesses (they were not) and to prepare communities for an anticipated EPA rulemaking to update the National Contingency Plan by talking about the lack of preparation and response for unconventional tar sands oil, dilbit and frack oil and gas

June

Filed a supplemental petition to EPA to update the National Contingency Plan to address response measures for tar sands (non-buoyant) oil and fracking (explosive) oil and to include citizen advisory councils for area response plans and provisions for protecting public health and worker safety

August

Officially founded The ALERT Project as a non profit organization through Earth Island Institute's fiscal sponsorship program in anticipation of EPA rulemaking to update rules governing dispersant use under the National Contingency Plan

2015

January-April

Led a campaign to inform and empower nearly 600 “unique” public comments by citizens across the country to EPA rulemaking on dispersant use through education webinars, earned media and a Great Lakes to Gulf Coast tour, resulting in over 80,000 public comments with the vast majority opposed to dispersant use

May-July

Keynote speaker at Vancouver, BC town hall, on Marathassa oil spill in English Bay, resulting in multiple briefings for municipalities, First Nations and environmental organizations, and a community training, on harm from oil disasters and lack of government-industry preparation for response; and an expert testimony on human health risks and impacts from oil spills for Canadian ally-intervenors opposing the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project (on scale of Keystone XL project)

June

Presented training on U.S. oil spill response regime & opportunities for citizen engagement at the EPA Region 6 Environment Justice Training Workshop in Little Rock, Arkansas

July

Prepared technical comments for Canadian allies on Canadian rulemaking to oppose allowing use of the same Corexit dispersants that we were trying to ban in the U.S. (Unfortunately, Canada opted to allow the dispersants)

2016

Worked with citizens harmed by 2014 BP Whiting refinery tar sands oil spill into Lake Michigan and chronic pollution from Whiting refinery wastewater treatment facility, and the 2010 Enbridge tar sands oil spill to demand maximum fines and local involvement of government and citizens as part of federal spill settlements

2017

January

Organized and conducted 3-day Toxic Trespass training for environmental justice leaders from western Great Lakes and across Gulf Coast states

August

Keynote speaker on long-term harm to people, communities, and wildlife from the Exxon Valdez and 2010 BP oil disasters at the 10-year memorial international scientific symposium of Hebei Spirit oil spill in Taean, South Korea

2018

July-September

Initiated legal work with Berkeley Environmental Law Clinic to prepare lawsuit against EPA over failure to finalize rulemaking on rules governing dispersant use

October–December

Updated 2015 expert testimony with the latest scientific studies from BP disaster on long-term harm to human health from oil-dispersant exposures for Canadian ally-intervenors opposing the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project

2019

January

Wrote comments opposing the proposed 2019 Beaufort Sea (Alaska) lease sale, based on the federal government’s fiduciary duty to protect the ocean and other public trust resources under the Public Trust Doctrine

August

Presented at the National Tribal Emergency Management Council’s conference on the inadequacies of oil spill response plans to protect Tribal responders, members and substance resources, resulting in invitation to work with Tribes to address the issues

2020

January

World premiere and multiple screenings at Sundance Film Festival of Mark Manning’s searing investigative documentary, The Cost of Silence, about the long-term human illnesses in the wake of the 2010 BP disaster; film features the work of ALERT director Dr. Riki Ott.

January 30

In the midst of the Sundance festival, The ALERT Project and its allies file a lawsuit against EPA over failure to finalize its rulemaking governing use of dispersants during spill response.

March - April

Conducted a BP10 virtual Gulf Coast tour with live-streaming, films and webinars to launch #WhatsThePlanEPA campaign with tools for communities to take action to build local capacity to prepare for – and mitigate harm from – oil disasters.

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