Oil sheen spreads from sunken vessels
• Cleanup crews on hand Friday to mitigate pollution in Jakolof
By Naomi Klouda
Photo provided by Margo Reveil An oil sheen (ABOVE) spread in Jakolof Bay last week after two fishing vessels sank under heavy snowfall. Jakolof Bay’s tranquil waters make it ideal for oyster farming (BELOW).
Two fishing vessels sank in Jakolof Bay on Christmas day, and by Friday an oily sheen spreading in sensitive oyster farming waters had the attention of federal and state agencies.
The F/V Leading Lady and the F/V Kupreanof sank sometime during the night of Christmas Eve or the following day, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said in a release. The sunken vessels were discovered at 2:47 p.m. on Dec. 25 and were immediately reported to the Coast Guard. The ADEC was notified as well.
The cause of the sinking is believed to be from the 48 inches of snow falling that day, another causality of the immense storm that swept through the region. The vessels were apparently pushed down and on top of one another when crews inspected the situation on Thursday. The Leading Lady is a 53-foot commercial fishing vessel.
The vessels’ owner, Timothy Barclay, estimated for ADEC that about 50 gallons of diesel fuel and 35 gallons of hydraulic fluids, along with lube oils were aboard the boat. The F/V Kupreanof had no engine or fuel on board at the time of the sinking.
“We’re heading over at first light to assess the situation and will develop a plan for mitigating any pollution,” said Chief Warrant Officer Dennis Sullivan on Friday morning.
A unified command for clean-up had been formed with ADEC, placing the Coast Guard in charge of oversight. Agencies and stakeholders were all notified as well.
“We’ve contracted out services for a cleanup. There will be an additional assessment by divers on Saturday,” Sullivan said. “If conditions are good, the company will remove all the petroleum products to mitigate any future threat.”
Diesel and gas tend to dissipate quickly, evaporating into the air, Sullivan said. “Crude oil is a different story. For refined products, it’s difficult to recover.”
Residents in Jakolof Bay watched as the sheens of fuel spread across the bay on Thursday, and anxiously awaited the cleanup. In an appeal to officials, Margo Reveil described diesel spreading all the way in the back of the bay on an outgoing tide, and documented it with photos.
“The sheen extended at least a nautical mile out past the red buoy off MacDonald spit. The last three images attached are back by the Northern Pride Farm,” she wrote. “They also fished out one, 5-gallon sealed bucket of oil floating in the bay, so debris is working its way out with the tides. I hope the seals hold as well on any other buckets. It is possible that diesel is being released in bursts and not a steady flow, but I would hope spill response teams are familiar with such potential fuel flow patterns from sunken vessels.”
Global Salvage and Diving was given the cleanup contract by the Coast Guard, with funding paid for by the National Pollution Fund.
Reveil’s husband and brother were the ones who called in to report the vessels had sunk. The Reveils operate an oyster farm in the bay and were immediately concerned about the impact of the spill.
“This shouldn’t harm the larger oysters, but it might be bad for the new spat, which are more vulnerable,” she said. “It’s encouraging to hear they are going out there getting chemicals off the boats.”
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Posted by Tribune Moderator
on Dec 28th, 2012 and filed under Headline News
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