Sheen Spotted By Grounded Vessels

Monday, November 19 2012

(Benjamin Stixrud/Coast Guard)

A light sheen has been spotted near two vessels that grounded near Cold Bay.

The tug Polar Wind and the barge it was towing ended up on the rocks on Wednesday, and responders observed the pollution on Friday. Boom was laid out around the Polar Wind to contain the spill. Combined, the two vessels were carrying more than 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel at the time of the grounding. The barge that grounded with it was also transporting an estimated 1.5 million pounds of frozen seafood. According to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, generators on the barge are still running and the containers remain refrigerated.

While rough weather prevented the response team from getting out to the vessels Sunday, they're hoping to remove the remaining fuel from the vessels tomorrow. They plan on transferring the frozen seafood to another cargo vessel by the middle of the week.

Ukolnoi, where the vessels beached, is an uninhabited island that's designated critical habitat for Steller sea lions, Steller's eiders, and sea otters. The Department of Environmental Conservation says that there have been no reports of wildlife being affected by the spill.

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