Sunken Tender Lone Star Is Leaking Fuel, Fishery Closures Will Stay in Place

No activity on the Igushik Beach as the set net fishery remains closed. Photo by Mike Mason, KDLG - Dillingham.
No activity on the Igushik Beach as the set net fishery remains closed. Photo by Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham.

UPDATE: An aerial survey flown Thursday morning reported no sheen in the water around the vessel. Members of the Unified Command responding to the Lone Star  intend to fly another survey Friday. The Department of Fish and Game stated the commercial sockeye fishing in the Igushik District will remain closed until there have been several consecutive days of no visible sheen in the water.

The sunken fishing tender in the Igushik River is apparently still leaking fuel and the commercial fishing closures in the area will stay in place for the time-being.

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Tim Sands is the ADF&G Area Management Biologist for the Nushagak District. He participated in an overflight of the sunken tender earlier Wednesday.

“We observed a sheen of oil. The tide was ebbing, so downstream from the vessel; it was approximately 2 miles long. It was pretty solid; I’d say it’s more oil sheen than I’ve seen in all the flights I’ve taken. Certainly more steady line, definitely patches that looked very rainbow colored. Some of it looked light silvery, but some of it definitely looked rainbow colored,” Sands said.

The number one priority of the responders to the sunken tender was to cap all of the vents on the various fuel tanks on the vessel.

Some of the vents were capped last Friday night and the rest of the vents were reportedly capped on Tuesday.

There was no fuel sheen seen on Tuesday but something has apparently changed resulting in the large sheen spotted Wednesday.

Sands confirms that the current fishing closures will stay in place until the situation takes a positive turn.

“I wanna see no sheen in the water for sure, but not necessarily, you know, for just one look,” Sand said. “Because, you know, there was reports [Tuesday], that there was no sheen, but there’s clearly a sheen [Wednesday].”

“So I don’t think one day’s report of no sheen is gonna work.”

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has contacted the processors that work with the set net fleet on the Igushik Beach in an effort to communicate the current situation and to explain why the fishery closures will stay in place.

At last report the Lone Star was carrying over 13,700 gallons of diesel fuel and about 300 gallons of other petroleum products.

The vessel has been the subject of a large response effort since it sank on June 30.

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Mike Mason is a reporter at KDLG in Dillingham.

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