Unified Command continues investigation of oiled wildlife on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska

Coast Guard Alaska News
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Unified Command consisting of the Coast Guard, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife continues to work with the communities of Gambell and Savoonga to investigate reports of oiled wildlife on the coast of St. Lawrence Island, Thursday.

The UC determined that there is not an active spill near St. Lawrence Island but will continue to monitor the situation and investigate any future reports they receive. The last report the UC received about impacted wildlife was Nov. 26 and reported a bird seen 10 days earlier near Savoonga. There have been no reports of impact to endangered species in the area.

Lab results from samples collected by investigators from impacted wildlife in November revealed degraded heavy oil in some samples, however, none of the wildlife samples are a match with any suspected sources sampled. ADEC, USFWS, NOAA will continue analysis in an effort to narrow down what type of oil was present.

“We are continuing to communicate with our federal, state, local and tribal partners and will investigate any new reports we receive,” said Capt. Paul Mehler III, commander, Coast Guard Sector Anchorage. “Our collective goal is to protect the environment and wildlife in the area.”

The Unified Command encourages locals to contact the following individuals to report future sightings:

  • Gay Sheffield, Marine Advisory Program, to report oiled wildlife 1-855-443-2397/907-434-1149.
  • Peter Murphy, NOAA marine debris coordinator, 209-526-4661 or DisasterDebris@noaa.gov.
  • Vera Metcalf, Eskimo Walrus Commission, 907-443-4380.
  • Coast Guard Sector Anchorage, Incident Management Division, 907-271-6700.
  • Ashley Adamczak, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, 907-451-2124.

The Coast Guard was notified about reports of oiled wildlife on St. Lawrence Island by the National Response Center on Nov. 7 and began an investigation into the reports.

A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Kodiak with a pollution investigator aboard conducted an aerial survey of the waters surrounding the island on Nov. 8, but reported no sightings of maritime pollution. Investigators also deployed to St. Lawrence Island to conduct shoreline assessments with local guides and collect samples for analysis.

 

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