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Shishmaref Completes Oil Sheen Clean-Up, Source Investigation Ongoing

Shishmaref oil sheen clean-up. Absorbent boom and pads soaking up emulsified oil. Photo: Richard Kuzuguk.

The U.S. Coast Guard, along with local responders, are completing clean-up on the oil sheen discovered off the north coast of Shishmaref. The search for the source of the spill continues.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Patrick Brown, Federal On-Scene Coordinator for the spill, said “[Responders] generated 30 bags of oily waste from the absorbent materials. I would say it was under 100 gallons for sure though total product.”

The Coast Guard had traveled to the site weekly since early June to assess the sheen and assist local responders with clean-up efforts. Brown says clean-up is now complete and investigation into the spill source continues, though leads are elusive.

“We couldn’t find a point source,” Brown said, “and by that I mean an individual tank or anything of that nature.”

The Coast Guard sent samples of the substance to the Coast Guard Marine Safety Lab in Connecticut to compare with samples from the Shishmaref tank farm. Results are pending.

Shishmaref’s Village Public Safety Officer Barret Eningowak reported the sheen on June 5 to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. The DEC, in a situation report, estimates the sheen covered a 1,200 foot area of nearshore ice with 100 gallons of product spilled.