USCG conducts check flights after report of sheen

Posted: Friday, April 23, 2010

Juneau - The U.S. Coast Guard will conduct fly-over checks of the waters in Lynn Canal after a report last weekend of oil sheen being seen near Mud Bay.

Oil response personnel from Haines and Juneau were unable to verify the report, which was received Sunday from a Haines man who said he saw oil on the ocean surface from an airplane Saturday between Vicking Cove and Pyramid Island.

The Coast Guard is in charge of an oil recovery project at the site of the sunken Princess Kathleen, a tour ship that sank off Lena Point in 1952 after hitting rocks. About 17,000 gallons of oily water has been removed from the underwater wreck since last weekend. A small amount of oil is escaping at the worksite but it is contained by booms, said Scot Tiernan, the state's on-scene project coordinator.

Oil spill response teams searched by sea in Haines on Sunday and by air and ground north of Juneau on Monday. They did not spot any oil, Coast Guard Operations Section Chief Chris Kimrey said.

Sometimes wind and current can make patterns on the ocean surface that can look like an oil sheen, Tiernan said. A small amount of oil from a leaking boat engine also can cause a sheen that looks large but is not, he added.

The Coast Guard's fly-over checks will occur twice a week from south of Lena Point to Benjamin Island. Flight directions are based on a predetermined "oil fate path" designed for the project by NOAA.



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