NOAA research vessel Rainier. NOAA file photo
An oily sheen in Women’s Bay has been traced to the NOAA research ship Rainier docked at Nyman Peninsula on the Kodiak Coast Guard base.
According to NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations spokesman David Hall in Silver Spring, Maryland, the spill volume was originally pegged at 400 gallons.
"We regret the incident and are working closely with the Coast Guard to minimize any environmental impacts and thank them for their assistance with the response," Hall said. "We’re investigating the cause of the incident and are taking appropriate steps to ensure it does not happen again.”
However Jade Gamble of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation in Soldotna says the spill was actually 1,640-gallons.
She said the spill was traced to a rupture in the bulkhead between a fuel tank and the grey water tank – which was not being used because the Rainier is connected to shore facilities. As the grey water tank filled with diesel an evacuation pump would occasionally kick on, discharging the fuel directly into Women’s Bay.
Gamble says tracing the problem took all day yesterday. Absorbent boom and a fuel skimmer are working to clean the spill, with a second skimmer being brought in to help. The spill was initially responded to by the Coast Guard, Gamble said, but responsibility will be turned over to NOAA, who is expected to hire a commercial clean up company to mop up the contamination.
The spill was first reported Monday to the Coast Guard, and again at noon yesterday (Tuesday). Comments from locals on the Friends of Kodiak Facebook group reported the smell of diesel fuel coming from the direction of the base for several days.