An oily sheen in Women’s Bay has been traced to the NOAA research ship Rainier docked at Nyman Peninsula on the Kodiak Coast Guard base.
According to NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations spokesman David Hall in Silver Spring, Maryland, the spill volume was originally pegged at 400 gallons.
“We regret the incident and are working closely with the Coast Guard to minimize any environmental impacts and thank them for their assistance with the response,” Hall said. “We’re investigating the cause of the incident and are taking appropriate steps to ensure it does not happen again.”
Jade Gamble of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation in Soldotna says the spill was actually 1,640-gallons.
She said the spill was traced to a rupture in the bulkhead between a fuel tank and the grey water tank – which was not being used because the Rainier is connected to shore facilities. As the grey water tank filled with diesel fuel, an evacuation pump would occasionally kick on, discharging the fuel directly into Women’s Bay.
Gamble says tracing the problem took all day yesterday. Absorbent boom and a fuel skimmer are working to clean the spill, with a second skimmer being brought in to help. The spill was initially responded to by the Coast Guard, but responsibility will be turned over to NOAA, who is expected to hire a commercial clean up company to mop up the contamination.
Steps have been taken to contain the fuel around the Rainier and according to a NOAA spokeswoman, clean up will be done by the Coast Guard.
Calls to the bridge of the Rainier were referred to the Coast Guard’s Sector Anchorage office.
The spill was first reported Monday to the Coast Guard, and again at noon yesterday (Tuesday). Comments from locals on the Friends of Kodiak Facebook group reported the smell of diesel fuel coming from the direction of the base for several days.
State and federal officials conducted the examination of the 25-ton humpback whale on Puffin Island in Kodiak in July after it was killed by what is now believed to be a collission with the ferry Kennicott. Photo courtesy Kate Wynn
Federal authorities believe the death of a whale near Kodiak in July was likely due to a collision with the state ferry Kennicott.
There were questions around the time of the incident about whether the animal was already dead when the ship struck it. Julie Speegle, a spokeswoman with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said that doesn’t appear to be the case. She says the whale was freshly dead when examined.
A necropsy found the cause of death to be a fractured skull due to a ship strike.
She says there were no findings in the report that the animal was injured before the collision.
Speegle says charges will not be pursued in the case, because the ship strike was unintentional and there was no evidence of a violation.
An oily sheen in Women’s Bay has been traced to a NOAA research vessel docked at the Coast Guard base.
A Sector Anchorage spokesman said yesterday evening that the exact composition of the rainbow sheen had not been identified, but its volume has been estimated to be about 20 gallons. He said steps have been taken to contain the spill and that NOAA will be responsible for clean up.
According to the NOAA website, both research ships Rainier and the Fairweather are indicated to be tied up at Nyman Peninsula, but a NOAA officer at the ships’ homeport in Newport, Ore., says the web-based ship tracker is innacurate. The 231-foot Rainier is currently in Kodiak; the Fairweather is in Seattle.
The spill was first reported Monday to the Coast Guard, and again at noon yesterday. Comments from locals on Friends of Kodiak reported the smell of diesel fuel coming from the area for several days.
Clean up on the archipelago’s remote Tugidak Island is now underway. This is the second and final year of Kodiak Island Trails Network’s project to remove marine debris from the island, which is southwest of the southern tip of Kodiak Island.
Tom Pogson is the director of marine programs for Island Trails Network, or ITN, and has been on Tugidak for about two weeks now. He contacted KMXT via satellite phone and said so far this year’s clean up is going well.
“We decided that there was enough debris in the area that we cleaned last year and we re-cleaned that area in almost less than half the time and we’re now I think starting the second day of clean up into the new area.”
Last year ITN collected 130 super sacks worth of marine debris on Tugidak and Pogson said this summer they already have 65 bags after only seven days of clean up. The crew spent the first week on the island setting up camp and making sure everything was in working order, and last week volunteers and members of the Kodiak Wildlife Refuge’s Youth Conservation Corps made the trip south to participate in the first wave of debris removal.
Pogson said the weather so far has been incredible, with only two days of rain in the past two weeks. On Friday a new group of volunteers left for the island, where Pogson said they’ll face a few different habitats and terrains that need cleaning. Continue reading
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is opening public comment on a plan to relax Steller sea lion protections and allow more commercial fishing in the western Aleutian Islands.
The agency released a draft of its new regulations on Tuesday. They would pave the way for the first commercial harvests of Atka mackerel and Pacific cod since 2011.
That’s when federal managers banned fishing on those species in the western Aleutians. It was intended to help an endangered population of sea lions. But commercial fishing interests and the state of Alaska argued that the science behind the fishing bans were faulty.
After years of litigation — and a comprehensive, court-ordered reassessment of the protection plan — NOAA ruled that commercial fishing wouldn’t jeopardize the sea lions if it was done under the right conditions.
Members of the public will have 45 days to weigh in on a draft of the new fishing regulations. The comment period will close on August 15. NOAA’s aiming to finalize the new rules by January 2015.
A former crab researcher and Kodiak resident just spent the past three-and-a-half years editing a reference book devoted to the biology and fisheries of king crab. Brad Stevens was in Kodiak visiting a few weeks ago and said the book is the first textbook to focus entirely on king crab.
Stevens lived in Kodiak from the 1980s until 2006 when he and his family moved to the east coast. He currently works as a professor of environmental science at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Stevens has been researching crab around the world for more than three decades primarily the reproductive biology and aquaculture potential of the species.
“And I had thought about putting some of this into a book at one point but when I worked for NOAA it would have been difficult for a number of reasons. One is I just really didn’t have time for it and I’m not sure that they would have considered it part of my job. Although we did do some publishing, this was a major undertaking.”
Stevens said it wasn’t until 2009, when he joined the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, that pursuing a reference book seemed feasible. Continue reading