Company estimates more than 5,000 gallons of diesel spilled in Neva Strait after tugboat grounding

A container barge is surrounded by smaller vessels while a tugboat lays pushed up on the shore
Western Mariner, an 83-foot tug, ran aground in Neva Strait March, 21, 2022, while towing Chichagof Provider, a 286-foot containerized barge. No injuries were reported. (USCG Photo)

The company that owns a tugboat that crashed around 18 miles north of Sitka last month now estimates that 5,307 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, pushing the tugboat onto the shore. The wreck caused a diesel spill, leading to a coordinated response from multiple state and federal agencies. The cleanup effort 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 April 5 reported that salvage crews had recovered around 33,000 gallons of fuel directly from the boat. A mix of oil and water recovered by skimmers yielded an additional 4,000 gallons of fuel.

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 still flushing nearby beaches with water last week. The DEC reports that shoreline monitoring will continue in the coming weeks.

KCAW - Sitka

KCAW is our partner station in Sitka. KTOO collaborates with partners across the state to cover important news and to share stories with our audiences.

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