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After weather delays, Kodiak Island fuel oil spill cleanup underway

Containment boom around the collapsed dock structure at Port William in Shuyak Strait, Kodiak Island. (Photo Courtesy of Alaska Chadux Corporation via U.S. Coast Guard)

After days of weather delays, cleanup efforts are underway at the scene of a fuel oil spill in rich marine habitat off Kodiak Island.

On Feb. 26, a private dock collapsed under hurricane-force winds at Shuyak Strait, a remote channel about 49 miles north of the city of Kodiak. About 3,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil  in a rubber tank was believed to have spilled into the waters between Afognak Island and Shuyak Island, according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

Bad weather delayed responders from getting to the site until Thursday.

Responders found a "light, unrecoverable" sheen with a 100-yard radius around Port William in Shuyak Strait, where the dock collapsed, according to a situation report from the U.S. Coast Guard and state environmental conservation authorities.

Unified Command response teams assess damages incurred by an oil spill in Shuyak Strait, 49 miles north of Kodiak, Alaska, March 2, 2018. At high tide, a sheen appears on the water above the debris and ruptured fuel bladder. (Photo provided by Alaska Chadux, LLC via U.S Coast Guard)

But by Saturday, 2,100 feet of inflatable containment boom had been placed around the spill area, including on a beach adjacent to the spill, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said. Some of the containment boom is anchored around collapsed buildings to "act as a protective wrap for the impacted waterfront," according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

In an update Sunday night, the the Coast Guard wrote that six bags of oily waste had been collected and a secondary inflatable containment boom, as well as an inner boom ring, had been deployed to further absorb any remaining oil.

The state is contracting with private oil spill response firm Alaska Chadux Corporation for the cleanup, according to the ADEC.

The area is designated critical habitat for northern sea otters and Steller sea lions, listed under the Endangered Species Act.

So far, "there have been no reports of impacted wildlife in the immediate or outlying vicinity of the site," according to Sunday's update.

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