The United States Coast Guard is taking charge of cleaning up fuel released in the Seward Harbor after the F/V Nordic Viking sank last Sunday.
The vessel, which sank for unknown reasons on Dec. 9, released an unknown amount of marine diesel and other petroleum products into the harbor.
The particulars and ultimate cause of the release are unknown but the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation reported that the ship had an estimated 600 to 700 gallons of marine diesel in the hull tanks and 50 gallons of gasoline in the deck tank. The 71-foot F/V Nordic Viking has a capacity of 2,000 gallons of marine diesel as well as a 500 gallon gasoline tank on the stern.
Following the release, a 1.5 mile sheen stretched south from T-Dock, where the vessel sank. A light sheen was also observed in nearby Scheffler Creek and the adjacent lagoon.
“The Coast Guard’s main objective is to limit environmental impacts through the containment and cleanup of the release as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said Capt. Sean MacKenzie, commander of Coast Guard Sector Anchorage. “We are working diligently with Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and contracted agencies to minimize the impact of this release.”
The Coast Guard opened the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to cover removal costs and hired the Anchorage-based not-for-profit oil spill response organization Alaska Chadux Corporation to respond to the spill.
Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the responsible party is liable for the costs associated with the containment, cleanup and damages resulting from the spill, but the Oil Spill Liability Trust fund can be used as an immediate source of funding to cover the costs.
Larry March, the responsible party, contracted Seward-based Storm Chasers to salvage the vessel. They have since plugged the ship’s fuel vents.
No hazards to wildlife or further discharge have been reported, according to the Coast Guard, but Steller sea lions and sea otters have been seen in the vicinity of the release, according to the ADEC.