Oil Spill Cleanup Continues at Valdez Boat Harbor

 

Overhead photo of the VMT Small Boat Harbor looking east. Photo credit: Alyeska Pipeline

Overhead photo of the VMT Small Boat Harbor looking east. Photo credit: Alyeska Pipeline

Response crews, made of Alyeska Pipeline, the Coast Guard and Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation report that as of Monday afternoon 798 barrels of water/oil mix has been collected from the spill that occurred just west of the Emergency Response Building at the Valdez Marine Terminal. 

Of that 33,516 gallons of water/oil mix, three quarters has been metered out and 511 gallons of oil has been recovered from the emulsified liquids. A further thirty gallons of spilled oil was collected on land adjacent to the bay. The exact amount remaining has yet to be determined but the “impacted area is decreasing and the booming footprint is shrinking,” DEC reports.

“The declining volume of collected liquids, along with gradual shrinking of the affected area, tells us we’re making progress,” said Commander Mike Franklin, Federal On-Scene Coordinator and United States Coast Guard representative in the Unified Command. “The response work couldn’t be carried out without the support from trained members of the community who are assisting through the Vessel of Opportunity program.”

The spill was discovered on April 12th and by the 13th was isolated and secured. The source of the spill has been identified as a concrete sump collection well “located west of the Emergency Response Building (ERB) at the Valdez Marine Terminal (VMT), about a quarter-mile uphill from the VMT small boat harbor,” DEC said in their report.

The oil did not match the runoff usually collected by the 16-foot deep sump that collects rainwater from the containment area, and so maintenance crews tracked the spill to find that a check valve had gotten plugged with debris which caused it to not fully close.

Crews at the scene have been excavating the oil’s flow path to the small boat harbor area and the entry point near the low tide line to collect and prevent further oil from entering through the rocky terrain. Excavation has taken place around the sump area and pressure testing of critical piping has been carried out to verify that there are no further leaks.

More than 266,000 feet of boom was deployed by the more than 230 personnel involved in the cleanup that includes 15 Vessels of Opportunity and 13 Alyeska workboats.

While a 5,000-foot Flight Restriction area has been put in place over the area, operations have not been impacted and tanker loading is proceeding as scheduled.