The Big Spill

I went to my first spill today at Milne Point. A tank of heavy oil (oil and sand slurry) gave way, exceeded the containment under the tank, and spilled onto the surrounding ice and snow pad. By the time we arrived, much of the oil had already been recovered. What was left was under a building that was raised off the ground about 8 feet. The oil under it was too thick and cold to pump off. So I assisted 2 others in putting up a wall of plastic around the spill. With the bottom of the building serving as the ceiling to this tent, the oil spill crew will put heat into the tent to heat up the oil and melt the snow. Then, apparently they’ll add water to the oil so the mixture can then be sucked up into a tanker. Remaining stained snow will be recovered and put into a special unit to separate the snow from the oil.

The weather was pretty nice for the winter – about 10 degrees. But the winds kicked up about 6 pm, and it was a bear getting the last third of the walls tacked up with battens and a screw gun

We saw several caribou today, as well as fox. The caribou are either solitary or in pairs. You see them pawing the snow away to get at the tundra below. The real troopers are the foxes – both arctic and red. I don’t know what they find to eat this time of year, but obviously something sustains them, as they are a common sight along the roads, and look to be in good health.

Mark Stopha
Alaska Wild Salmon Company
4455 N. Douglas Hwy
Juneau, AK 99801

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