Coast Guard continues coordination efforts on Bligh Reef grounding

VALDEZ, Alaska – Coast Guard C-130 aircraft and MH-60 helicopter crews from Air Station Kodiak conducted over-flights Thursday of the diesel spill in the vicinity of Bligh Reef.

The tug Pathfinder went aground on Bligh Reef Wednesday evening creating a light grey or silver diesel sheen spanning an area approximately three miles long and 30 yards wide approximately one mile east of Glacier Island.

Projections from both the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration along with the Ship Escort and Response Vessel System concur that the sheen is not predicted to go ashore Glacier Island over the next 24 to 36 hours and is rapidly dissipating.

This afternoon’s over-flight images show the sheen to be light. The Valdez Star, an oil recovery vessel, continues to use oil skimmers to recover as much diesel as possible. The fuel is difficult to recover due to the light nature of the sheen. The diesel that is not recovered will dissipate naturally with wind and tidal action.

The unified command center consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard, Alaska Department of Conservation and Crowley Marine Services, Inc. are planning to remove the remaining fuel from the Pathfinder Thursday evening and is expected to last approximately eight hours. Following the lightering, the tug is scheduled to return to Valdez for a more comprehensive damage assessment. It will be escorted by spill response resources in case any sheening is detected while transiting to Valdez. A more accurate amount of diesel fuel lost will be available.

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