Responders enter fifth day of response to diesel spill on Adak Island

KODIAK, Alaska – Approximately 10,000 gallons of diesel and water have been collected as responders continue diesel recovery from Helmet Creek and the Adak small boat harbor Friday.

The containment boom in small boat harbor was rearranged Wednesday due to wind associated with a strong front’s passing. High winds changed to a southerly direction and pushed free floating diesel in the small boat harbor into a centralized collection point near the mouth of Helmet Creek, assisting in a more efficient recovery of the concentrated product. The majority of the diesel in the small boat harbor has been recovered.

Efforts continued to recover oil from collection points established along Helmet Creek with two skimmers and a vacuum truck. Response crews are focused on recovering the waterborne diesel currently but efforts are underway to determine what soil is oiled and develop processes for its removal and remediation.

A portion of the spill has affected the land around the tank, Helmet Creek and the shore on the southwest side of the small boat harbor. A Shoreline cleanup assessment team has been mobilized and is beginning an assessment of the extent of oiling to these areas and Sweeper Cove. The team is being lead by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s scientific support coordinator who arrived on site Thursday afternoon. No oiled wildlife has been observed and very little wildlife activity has been observed. The unified command continues to work with U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game personnel to minimize the disturbance caused by response actions to sea otters and critical habitat.

Responders include two Coast Guard petty officers, three Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation personnel, one U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee, 16 Alaska Chadux contractors and seven Adak residents. With the addition of Thursday’s responders to the crew on the island, logistical capabilities are at maximum capacity. There have been no injuries on site.

Adak Petroleum representatives, with support for the Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation and the Coast Guard, have offered to conduct town hall meetings to concerned community members.

Plans are being developed to handle the soiled sorbents, contaminated boom and recovered diesel. The collected sorbent materials and diesel are currently being securely stored on site until they can be removed from the island and sent to a waste handling facility.

Thursday the weather was forecast as winds from the south at 38 mph with rain. Friday the winds will increase to 24 to 27 mph from the east with rain. The air temperature will remain in the 30s.

The 142,800 gallon spill was discovered Monday during a fuel transfer operation from the tanker Al-Amerat to a 4.78 million gallon subterranean tank built in 1991 in the Adak tank farm. The transfer was ceased immediately and the source of the spill has been secured. The Al-Amerat has since departed Adak.

An investigation into the cause of the spill will be conducted once the oil recovery is further along.

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