Thousands of gallons of oily water recovered from Valdez spill; officials say leak is contained

Photo from Unified Incident Command (Alyeskaresponds.com)

Thousands of gallons of oily water have been recovered from the harbor at the end of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Officials say that aerial surveys show that the spill is contained as of 10 a.m. on Tuesday. 

On Sunday evening, crews reported an oil sheen on the water near the Valdez Marine Terminal’s small boat harbor. Personnel working for Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, which operates the pipeline, reported the spill just after 8 p.m. on Sunday. On Monday evening Alyeska set up an incident management team.

A spokesperson for Alyeska said that the decision to set up an incident management was made after seeing the seriousness of the spill. As of Tuesday morning, the team had recovered 326 barrels – or about 13,000 gallons – of oily water from a 30-by-30-foot contained area that was being monitored by 12 fishing vessels and aircraft.

One bird was reportedly covered with oil and a wildlife task force is still monitoring the area. Officials say they have put special precautions on two sensitive environmental areas near the spill by putting booms around Solomon Gulch Hatchery and the Valdez Duck Flats.

An initial report by Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation suggested the spill was coming from a sump that had overflowed. The department said that the Trans-Alaska Pipeline itself was operating as normal and received an oil tanker Tuesday without disruption.