Oil spotted on Cook Inlet near Nikiski

Posted: Tuesday, May 15, 2001

NIKISKI (AP) -- Concentrations of thick, heavy oil have been sighted floating in Cook Inlet near Nikiski, and authorities are cleaning up the oil and trying to determine its source, according to the Coast Guard and state officials.

Several pipelines run under the inlet in the vicinity of the oil sightings, first reported by Cross Timbers Operating Co. Friday evening.

Cook Inlet Spill Prevention and Response Inc. was hired to work on cleaning up the oil, and recovered 30 to 40 gallons on Friday, the Coast Guard said.

The initial spill amounted to 120 to 200 gallons, with an additional 42 gallons spotted on Monday.

Investigators contacted the operators of oil platforms in the area, but none of them reported losing any oil.

Samples of the oil are being sent to Anchorage for analysis to determine if it was crude or refined, and further tests were planned to check the microscopic ''fingerprint'' of the petroleum to determine the source.

Cleanup crews reported that the oil didn't appear to have reached the shore, and there were no sea mammals or birds in the vicinity.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation, which was also investigating the oil, said a 100-yeard-wide sheen extended 1.5 miles from the area of the OSK dock near Nikiski.

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