The Latest: Unions protest Alaska oil tanker escort proposal

    Two maritime unions are campaigning for to retain the current company escorting oil tankers in Prince William Sound.

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Latest on two maritime unions campaigning for to retain the current company escorting oil tankers in Alaska's Prince William Sound:

    3:30 p.m.

    A spokeswoman for the company that operates the trans-Alaska pipeline says it expects high safety standards to be retained when it makes a change in who escorts oil tankers out of Prince William Sound.

    Michelle Egan of Alyeska (al-ee-ES-kah) Pipeline Service Co. says Louisiana-based Edison Chouest (shwest) will bring a lot of expertise and new equipment to the job.

    Crowley Marine Services hold the current contract, which will expire in June 2018.

    Two maritime unions are trying to drum up support to retain Crowley, a union contractor.

    The International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots and the Inlandboatmen's Union says Alaska jobs will be eliminated and environmental safety compromised if Alyeska retains a less experienced contractor for tanker escorts and spill response.

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    12:15 p.m.

    Two maritime unions are protesting a proposal to change who escorts oil tankers out of Alaska's Prince William Sound, warning the change could cause a major spill in the area where the Exxon Valdez accident saw 11 million gallons of crude soil beaches and wildlife in 1989.

    Alyeska (al-ee-ES-kah) Pipeline Service Co., which operates the trans-Alaska pipeline, is negotiating with Edison Chouest (shwest) Offshore, a Louisiana-based nonunion contractor, to replace Florida-based Crowley Maritime Services for escorts and spill response of tankers leaving Valdez (val-DEEZ).

    The International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots and the Inlandboatmen's Union are urging Alaskans to sign a petition objecting to the switch.

    The unions are planning a television advertising campaign warning that change will undercut the Alaska economy by replacing resident workers with nonresidents.

    They also say that the change could increase the chances of a spill in Prince William Sound.

    An Alyeska spokeswoman did not immediately return calls for comment on Tuesday.

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