Oil Removed From Beach Outside Sound
Taffy-like tar mixed with seaweed was scoured off a beach Tuesday at the end of Resurrection Bay near Seward, the first town outside Prince William Sound to have oil reach its shores.
High tides and southerly winds off the Gulf of Alaska pushed the crude oil up the fjord-like channel, where two Coast Guard oil-skimming ships were out of action because the goo gummed up their pumps, Deputy Seward City Manager Darryl Schaefermeyer said.
“We put protective booming up around the critical (salmon) spawning streams in the bay four weeks ago,” Schaefermeyer said. “But as far as the rest of the bay there was no effective way of booming it all off.”
Fresh Oil Sightings
The Coast Guard reported fresh sightings of oil on remote beaches on the Kenai Peninsula. A Valdez center for cleaning oil-fouled birds said at least 1,850 birds had died from the spill, along with 328 sea otters. The center has cleaned and released 22 birds.
Resurrection Bay, with a channel 600 feet deep, is about 125 miles from where the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on March 24, dumping 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound.
Adm. Paul Yost, the Coast Guard chief, approved Exxon’s cleanup plan for the sound Monday, but expressed reservations about whether it could succeed. He gave Exxon until May 1 to complete a cleanup plan for outside the sheltered sound, where the work is likely to be even harder along the Gulf of Alaska coast.
Huge swells along the exposed coast will often prevent boats or crews from working close to the beach, said Peter Fitzmaurice, chief ranger at Kenai Fjords National Park, which stretches from Seward southwest along most of the southern coast of the peninsula.
“They can work the inner bays, but if a big swell comes in, there’s no way they’ll be able to work near the rocks,” he said.