Rough Seas Hamper Salvage Effort

110217.midnitesun.jpgAs much as 4,500 gallons of diesel fuel has leaked from the 68-foot F/V Midnite Sun near Tanaak Cape on Afognak Island. Coast Guard Petty Officer Sara Francis photo

Jacob Resneck/KMXT

A fishing vessel that grounded on Friday has since spilled as much as 4,500 gallons of diesel fuel in waters west of Afognak Island. The 86-foot Midnite Sun was safely evacuated by the Coast Guard and no injuries were reported. The boat has since remained grounded about 36 miles northwest of Kodiak.

Now investigators with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation report that survey crews on Tuesday found that four of the six fuel tanks containing fuel are nearly empty with their contents leaching into the sea.

The area is designated habitat for the endangered Northern sea otter and Steller sea lion as well as waterfowl. But no visible sheen has been detected by survey crews and DEC says commercial fisheries will likely not be affected.

High winds and rough seas this week have delayed salvage efforts. The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the grounding and a DEC spokesman said Wednesday that no citations or charges have yet been filed against owner or operator of the vessel.

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