Jacob Resneck, KMXT – Kodiak
A fishing vessel that grounded last week has since spilled as much as 4,500 gallons of diesel fuel in waters west of Afognak Island.
The 86-foot Midnite Sun was safely evacuated by the Coast Guard and no injuries were reported. The boat has since remained grounded about 36 miles northwest of Kodiak. Investigators with the state Department of Environmental Conservation now report that a survey crew found that four of the six fuel tanks are nearly empty and their contents are leaching into the sea.
The area affected is designated habitat for the endangered Northern sea otter and Steller Sea Lion as well as waterfowl. But no visible sheen has been detected by survey crews and DEC says commercial fisheries will likely not be affected.
Highwinds and rough seas this week have delayed salvage efforts. The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the grounding and a DEC spokesman said Wednesday that no citations or charges have been filed against the vessel’s owner.
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