Unified Command responds to sinking vessel, oil spill in Sitka, Alaska

Boom surrounds the sunken vessel Pacific Venture near The Twins, Sitka, Alaska, Sept. 2, 2015. A unified command consisting of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Coast Guard Sector Juneau, Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Sitka, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, National Park Service and the vessel’s owner are working with Sitka City officials to clean up fuel from the vessel. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lewis Beck)

Boom surrounds the sunken vessel Pacific Venture near The Twins, Sitka, Alaska, Sept. 2, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lewis Beck)

JUNEAU, Alaska —  A Unified Command has been formed to respond to a vessel sinking and resultant 10-30 gallon oil spill in Sitka, Alaska.

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Coast Guard Sector Juneau, Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Sitka, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, National Park Service and the vessel’s owner are working with Sitka City officials to clean up the spill.

The fishing vessel Pacific Venture, a 58-foot seiner, ran aground Tuesday evening and subsequently rolled over around 2 a.m. Wednesday, sinking in approximately 25 feet of water.  The incident occurred in vicinity of The Twins, roughly ½ mile off the mouth of the Indian River in Sitka.

The vessel owner reports 600 gallons of diesel fuel and 70 gallons of hydraulic and lube oils were on board.  Approximately 10-30 gallons of oil were released into the water.

Southeast Alaska Petroleum Response Organization (SEAPRO) and local responders began deploying boom around the vessel at noon Wednesday.  Boom deployment was complete by 3 p.m.  The Pacific Venture is currently secured to shore by a line to keep it from drifting.  Salvage operations are pending.  No injuries have been reported, and to date there have been no confirmed reports of impacts to wildlife.

“Responders are working diligently to minimize the impact on the environment and the community,” said Bob Mattson, State On Scene Coordinator. “Federal, state and local partners continue to work alongside one another for an effective response.”

The cause of the grounding is currently under investigation.

Weather on scene is generally sunny, northwest wind of 8-13 knots, seas 1 foot.

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