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St. Lawrence Oiled Wildlife Incident UPDATE

Oil Samples are Taken from a Lightly Oiled Common Murre Harvested Sunday, Nov. 4 in Gambell, Alaska.

Oil Samples are Taken from a Lightly Oiled Common Murre Harvested Sunday, Nov. 4 in Gambell, Alaska.

PHOTO: ADEC

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Incident Description

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Reports of oiled wildlife have been confirmed in Gambell and Savoonga. The source of the discharge has not yet been determined. At the time, the cause of the release remains unknown.

On November 7, 2012 at 12:16 ADEC received a National Response Center (NRC) incident report regarding an unknown discharge which had effected birds and seals, and caused oil soaked debris to wash ashore.

Response Plans and Related Documents

Weather and Tides


A Unified Command composed of U.S. Coast Guard, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the Cities of Gambell and Savoonga are investigating reports of oiled wildlife on St. Lawrence Island.

Subsistence Advisory for St Lawrence Island
November 9, 2012

Known Facts:
• Local oil observations indicate that oil from an unknown source may be present along the shoreline and on the water surface in certain areas of St Lawrence Island.
• Shoreline areas may appear to be free of oil; however, it is important to check the whole shoreline before gathering items for consumption.
• Beaches that appear clean on the surface may have oil below the surface. When digging for resources, check the subsurface for signs of oil before collecting subsurface resources such as clams.
• Oil may generally appear to be brown or black in color, or appear as a sheen on the water.

If you are a subsistence user:
• Take care when collecting fish, shellfish, plants, or intertidal species in areas where oil has been observed.
• Special care should be taken in inspecting consumable items prior to use.
• Oil may be detected on food by visually inspecting and smelling for oil.
• If you suspect or find oil on a subsistence item, do not use or consume the item.

If you find any signs of oil on items harvested in the area, or if you observe any signs of oil on the beach or in the water, please report your findings to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation 1-800-478-9300 or the U.S. Coast Guard at 1-866-396-1361.

Any oiled wildlife should be reported to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife at 1-877-277-4392

Unified Command continues investigation of oiled wildlife on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Unified Command consisting of the Coast Guard, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and communities of Gambell and Savoonga continues to investigate the reports of oiled wildlife on the coast of St. Lawrence Island, Friday.

The Coast Guard, ADEC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have deployed investigators to St. Lawrence, to work with local guides to conduct shoreline assessments.

A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Kodiak with a pollution investigator aboard conducted an aerial survey of the waters around St. Lawrence Island Thursday but reported no sightings of maritime pollution.

The Coast Guard received a National Response Center notification of oiled wildlife Wednesday, and initiated a joint investigation.

The initial report was of three Common Murres with oil on their bellies observed on Sunday near Gambell.  One bird was harvested for testing, and oil samples have been collected and are currently being analyzed to narrow down a potential source.

The ongoing investigation has revealed reports of an oiled Crested Auklet found on Tuesday near Gambell, an oiled Spotted Seal was also subsistence harvested near Gambell on Oct. 26.  Another oiled Spotted Seal was subsistence harvested more than 230 miles from Gambell near Shishmaref on Sept. 3.  Oil samples from the Gambell seal have been collected and are being analyzed. Efforts are also underway to obtain samples from the Shishmaref seal.

“Upon receiving the report, the Coast Guard reached out to state, local and tribal leaders and established a Unified Command to investigate the reports we received regarding the oiled wildlife,” said Capt. Paul Mehler III, commander, Coast Guard Sector Anchorage.

“We are dedicated to working with the community to ensure their health and safety,” said Tom DeRuyter, state on scene coordinator, ADEC. “Our teams will be working with local community members to investigate the situation and address the source of the oil.”

The Unified Command is partnering with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, the Department of the Interior, the University of Alaska Marine Advisory Program, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association, and local tribal leadership to provide a joint response.

There have been no reports of impact to endangered species in the area.

To view a photo of the Common Murre that was harvested by the hunter please visit: http://dec.alaska.gov/spar/stlaw  (USCG, Nov. 9, 2012)

Crews investigating reports of oiled wildlife on St. Lawrence Island

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Coast Guard, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the mayors of Gambell and Savoonga established a unified command to investigate reports of oiled wildlife on the coast of St. Lawrence Island, Thursday.

A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Kodiak with a pollution observer aboard is scheduled to conduct an aerial survey of the area Thursday. The Coast Guard, ADEC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also plan on deploying investigators to the area Friday, to work with local guides to further investigate the possible source of the oil.

"The unified command’s primary concern is protecting the wildlife and the sensitive ecosystem on St. Lawrence Island," said Capt. Paul Mehler III, commander, Coast Guard Sector Anchorage.

The unified command is liaising with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Department of the Interior, the University of Alaska Marine Advisory Program, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association, and local tribal leadership to provide a joint response.

The Coast Guard was initially notified of the oiled wildlife Wednesday from a representative of the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. Oil samples sent back to Anchorage are currently being analyzed to narrow down a potential source.

There have been no reports of impact to endangered species in the area.  (USCG, Nov. 8, 2012)

 

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