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Oil sheen observed in Wrangell after boat sinking

Posted: January 16, 2014 - 2:06pm  |  Updated: January 17, 2014 - 1:05am

The U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies are responding to the site of a boat sinking in Wrangell, as a sheen of oil was seen surrounding the area.

The 60-foot steel-hulled Silver Bay II, a former tug that is now a recreational vessel, reportedly sank at its moorings Wednesday with an estimated potential fuel load of 3,500 gallons of diesel aboard.

Coast Guard pollution investigators flew over the area, the Wrangell Silver Bay logging sawmill along Zimovia Strait, and observed a sheen that extended a few miles away from the sunken vessel, a statement from the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard is working with other agencies, including the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, to develop a response plan to assess and mitigate the pollution, the statement said.

“Our primary concern is the safety of the responders as they work to mitigate any existing pollution and assess the vessel,” Cmdr. Marc Burd, the chief of response at Coast Guard Sector Juneau, said in the statement. “Coast Guard personnel are on site with the responders to resolve this sinking with as little impact to the environment as possible and we are communicating with ADEC and all our other partner agencies as we move forward.”

So far, a containment boom has been mobilized around the site, and the owner of the vessel has hired divers to conduct an assessment of the vessel and cap fuel tanks. Dive operations, though, have been placed on hold due to the weather, which has delayed the salvage company’s transit and arrival time.

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