Oil spill cleanup ongoing

Posted: Friday, July 23, 2010

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the estimated 630-gallon crude oil spill discovered in the Swanson River Oil Field earlier this week.

Chevron reported the spill at 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday. Crews spent Thursday preparing for excavation of buried pipe suspected as the source.

"They're still delineating the area trying to determine the extent of spill," Steve Russell, the Department of Environmental Conservation's spokesman, said. "They had a bunch of grass to cut. There's just so much grass that grows up so high and it's a quite a job to get that all out."

Chevron, which is responsible for cleaning the spill, says it is working closely with DEC, the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to fix the problem.

"We are working with the DEC and other authorities to evaluate the situation. It's relatively small in size and not mobile in the sense that it's not on navigable waters," Chevron spokesman Scott Walker said. "We're trying to clean it up as early as we can."

In a released statement, Chevron confirmed the spill and said the cause "is under investigation."

The spill occurred above a buried pipeline corridor holding active and inactive piping along a roadway near pad 21-27 in the Swanson River Oil Field in the Kenai Wildlife Refuge.

The spill should not have a major impact on local wildlife, according to the Kenai refuge's oil and gas liaison, Claire Caldes.

"The important thing is that it's not an active leak right now. Industry is responsible for the cleanup, and they're doing a pretty good job," Caldes said. "As far as a threat to the wildlife, I don't see any big concern. It's not threatening the Swanson River at all."

After a survey crew discovered the spill, Chevron shut down its active crude line and placed absorbent pads around the spill and in a lake about 700 feet from the release location.

Andrew Waite can be reached at andrew.waite@peninsulaclarion.com.

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