State and federal investigators are still working to determine the cause of a recent oil spill in Sitka Sound. The oil leak was spotted oozing from a hole in the seawall near the Sitka Sound Science Center’s hatchery penstock in mid-November. Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) spokesperson Sarah Moore said the leak stopped shortly after the spill was spotted.
“The Coast Guard has been maintaining containment boom around the Science Center in kind of ‘just in case’ posture, but there hasn’t been any additional contamination released,” Moore said.
Moore said the DEC conservatively estimates the spill at around 10 gallons total.
“So it really has been a pretty small release,” said Moore. “You know, we were particularly concerned about identifying the source and then, of course, helping the Science Center ensure that they are safe and ready for next season’s fry.”
Federal investigators from the EPA were in Sitka last week to try to find the source of the spill on nearby properties. The team drilled several holes around the state-owned Stratton Library, which is a part of the state-run Sheldon Jackson Museum, located uphill from the Science Center .
“And so we were hoping to find contamination there that would help lead us to a source. They dug three holes, essentially to bedrock, and did not find any indications of contamination,” said Moore.
“So at this point, we’ve collected samples from those test pits, as well as from the oil appearing at the Science Center, and from some potential sources we’ve identified, and we’re waiting for those test results to help us determine what the next steps are going to be.”
Moore said they should have results from those tests in the next 7-10 days.