DEC: No Harm to Wildlife Seen in Wake of Monterrey Spill

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has revised downward the amount of diesel fuel spilled from the U.S. Army Reserve landing craft Monterrey, which was intentionally grounded late Friday night after hitting a charted rock, just off shore of downtown Kodiak.

Steven Russel, the ADEC’s on-scene coordinator for Central Alaska, says at least 8,000 gallons were spilled from one of the Monterrey’s fuel tanks, but the fuel in another tank was partially pumped out after the accident. He says the range of spilled fuel is between 8,000 and 12,000 gallons.

The aroma of diesel was strong and a rainbow sheen of fuel was widely visible on the Kodiak waterfront all weekend. Russel says an extensive effort was made to determine if any marine life or seabirds were harmed by the diesel spill, but none were found.

Skimmers are being used near the Monterrey, and sorbent pads are being used to sop up concentrations of fuel. Russel says there are no plans to burn off or use dispersants on the fuel. Oil booms were also placed at the mouth of the nearby Buskin River to protect salmon spawning habitat. The Kodiak salmon fishery started on Saturday.

The Monterrey will remain grounded on Puffin Island, and surrounded by floating oil booms, until the damaged tanks are empty and the ship’s stability can be assured. Then it will likely be taken to the nearby Coast Guard base.

There, according to Major Annmarie Daneker of the U.S. Army Reserve, a decision will be made how to get the cargo of construction equipment to its destination near Newtok on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta coast. An Alaska barge may be contracted, or a similar landing craft will be sent up from Tacoma, Wash. She said a decision has to be made soon because of Alaska’s short summers and building season.

The Monterrey was transporting heavy construction equipment from Port Hueneme, Calif., to Newtok on the coast between the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers, in support of a U.S. Marine Corps mission to relocate the village because of erosion and melting permafrost.

Three crewmen suffered bumps and bruises when the Monterrey hit Humpback Rock and were taken ashore for medical attention. They were treated and released and are reported in good condition.

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Jay Barrett is the news director at KMXT in Kodiak.

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