Image of the SCAT Team conducting shoreline surveys in Neva Strait on April 4, 2022 (DEC Photo)

The company that owns a tugboat that crashed around 18 miles north of Sitka last month now estimates that 5307 gallons of diesel fuel were spilled into the ocean as a result of the accident. 

The Western Mariner was towing an Alaska Marine Lines barge in Neva Strait early on the morning of March 21 when a steering failure caused the two vessels to collide, and pushed the tugboat onto the shoreline. The wreck caused a diesel spill, leading to a coordinated response from multiple state and federal agencies, and a cleanup effort that is ongoing. 

The Western Mariner can hold around 50,000 gallons of diesel, but the Western Towboat Company estimates that the boat was only holding about 43,000 gallons of fuel when it crashed.

A situation report published by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation on Tuesday (4-5-22) reported that salvage crews had recovered around 33,000 gallons of fuel directly from the boat and a mix of oil and water recovered by skimmers yielded an additional 4000 gallons of oil. The boat was towed back to Sitka on March 29, and remains moored at the Samson Tug and Barge dock. 

Efforts to assess the nearby environmental impacts are ongoing, with crews flushing nearby beaches with water as recently as Tuesday. The DEC reports that shoreline monitoring will continue in the coming weeks.