Grounded boat spills up to 1,000 gallons of fuel near Nome

STORM: Propeller was fouled in towing line; vessel drifted to rocks.

The Associated PressSeptember 12, 2011 

The landing craft Kaktovik II is boomed off to catch leaking fuel after it grounded near Nome's harbor Sept. 10, 2011.

ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION VIA THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NOME -- A towing vessel went aground on rocks near Nome's harbor and spilled up to 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the ocean, officials said.

The disabled Kaktovik II was pulled off the rocks, brought into Nome's harbor, and its remaining diesel fuel removed. Strong winds and waves that hindered the removal of the vessel from the site were calming Monday, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Ashley Anderson, a DEC on-scene coordinator, said the agency was working with the Coast Guard and the harbormaster to remove the vessel from the site, probably not until Tuesday.

The boat was pulling a barge Saturday when its tow line hit the propeller and disabled it, and the vessel drifted into channel rocks, the DEC said. The rocks ripped a 40-foot gash in the vessel's side and ruptured a fuel tank, releasing 800-1,000 gallons of diesel into the water, Anderson said.

The department said it was unknown if the fuel had washed up on parts of Nome's harbor, beaches and a nearby river. It planned to conduct shoreline assessment over the area.

Weather and the rough seas Sunday prevented crews from assessing any possible damage to the environment, Anderson told The Associated Press. But she said she expects "a lot of it to be carried out to sea" and dispersed because of ocean conditions, including five-foot waves.

"Once the water has died down, we'll be able to get a better assessment," Anderson said.

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