Responders to begin removing fuel from Mar-Gun

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Coast Guard and civilian responders are working to remove fuel from the 112-foot fishing vessel Mar-Gun grounded on Staraya Beach off St. George Island in Western Alaska Sunday.

Poor weather conditions delayed the team in accessing the vessel Saturday and removing any fuel. Winds from the southeast of over 50 miles per hour created surf conditions that made work aboard the vessel unsafe. Personnel continued to work on response plans, equipment placement and shoreline observations. The winds have decreased Sunday to about 20 miles per hour from the south creating seas of only two feet.

The vessel has sustained some damage to the port side. It continues to be battered by the surf. The engine room is partially flooded. Sorbents have been deployed in the engine room to absorb any oils present. A light intermittent sheen has been sighted near the vessel. A limited amount of diesel has been released. Responders are working to determine exactly how much fuel remains on board.

The vessel grounded with a reported 15,000 gallons of diesel on board. Responders worked to stabilize the vessel Thursday and Friday. A series of transfer hoses and pumps are being used to move the fuel on board to containers and a truck on the shore.

Members of the Coast Guard National Strike Force’s Pacific Strike Team departed their home base in Novato, Calif., Thursday and arrived in St. George Friday to begin work despite adverse weather conditions. Members of Coast Guard Sector Anchorage as well as the Dept. of Environmental Conservation are on scene. They are augmenting the master of the vessel and civilian salvers from Magone Marine. The response vessel Makushin Bay arrived from Dutch Harbor Friday and will be used in the salvage efforts.

Staraya Beach has been identified as a sensitive marine habitat. The beach is home to fur seal rookeries and haul outs, stellar sea lion haul outs and marine bird habitat. The beach also supports sites of cultural and historical significance. The unified command managing the incident has engaged a historical properties specialist to provided expertise and oversight during the operations to protect these sites.

Shoreline cleanup and assessment teams have been monitoring the beach and rookeries. No oiled wildlife has been sighted and the rookeries have not been adversely affected. The majority of species that inhabit the island will not arrive until later this spring.

St. George Island is part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge; however, Staraya Beach is classified as a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association withdrawal and is not part of the refuge. The Mar-Gun is grounded approximately 200-yards from shore.

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