Removal of fuel from Mar-Gun continues near St. George

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Responders continue to work during daylight hours to remove the fuel from the fishing vessel Mar-Gun grounded on the north end of St. George Island. 10,605 gallons of diesel has been removed so far.

Crews are working Wednesday to continue the removal of diesel and to effect repairs to the small breach in the engine room. Once the breach is patched the engine room can be dewatered. This will allow access to the engine manifold which is necessary to lighter the 668 gallons of lube oil.

“We are making excellent progress,” said Cmdr. Joseph LoSciuto, deputy commander Coast Guard Sector Anchorage, “The tactics employed and the use of the Strike Team allowed us to take advantage of the first weather window after the grounding and not waste valuable time.”

Tuesday a transfer hose separated, causing a one gallon spill to the beach soil. Clean up actions were undertaken immediately by Coast Guard, Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and local responders.

Weather conditions Wednesday are reported as west winds at 17 miles per hour with waves of nine feet and scattered snow showers. Conditions are expected to deteriorate Thursday.

Assessments of the vessel and its stability are on going. Salvage plans are in development. No injuries have been reported. The cause of the incident remains under investigation.

Blue mussels and other subsistence resources will be collected on St. George Island near the Mar-Gun grounding site and assessed for the presence of petroleum contaminants to determine if any health risk exists.

DEC, working in conjunction with the St. George Traditional Council, will oversee the subsistence sampling program. Polaris Applied Sciences Inc. has been hired to develop a sampling plan.

“To avoid potential health risks, we suggest subsistence users refrain from harvesting and consuming foods where oil sheens can be seen or smelled,” said Gary Folley, state on-scene coordinator for DEC.

Tissue samples of subsistence foods will be collected and analyzed for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a class of chemicals that reflects petroleum contamination.

In the meantime, unified command suggests subsistence users follow these guidelines to prevent health risks.

  • Harvesting and consumption should be avoided where oil or sheens can be seen or smelled.
  • Do not collect or eat subsistence food animals that are behaving oddly or have unusual lesions.
  • Avoid harvesting shellfish or intertidal organisms like chitons, limpets and octopus from oiled beaches, or if you see or smell oil on the animals.
  • Finfish, like salmon, rapidly digest oil. If they survive being exposed to oil, it is processed very quickly through their bodies. If fish do not have oil on them and otherwise appear healthy, there is very low risk from eating them.
  • Birds and mammals also rapidly digest oil. Check for oiled feathers, feet or fur. If the birds and mammals do not appear to be oiled and otherwise appear healthy, there is very low risk from eating them.

Individuals with questions regarding subsistence harvesting on St. George Island may contact Gary Folley, DEC, (907) 262-5210 ext.234.

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