A Soviet oil skimmer swung into action Friday as a number of fishing boats waged their own, low-tech fight against America's worst oil spill.
While the 425-foot Vaidogubsky plied the rough seas off the Kenai Peninsula, Kelly Duncan shook his head in disgust over his 53-foot fishing vessel with its holds full of oil sucked from Resurrection Bay."I got all the evidence of the oil spill you could want right here," said Duncan, 29, of Kasilof. "It's death and destruction. People look at it and it makes them sick."
Duncan's boat, Sea Quest, was docked in a contamination zone of Seward's small boat harbor while state and Coast Guard officials debated what to do with the 7,500 gallons Duncan said he sucked up in 16 hours Thursday.
The Soviet skimmer spent Thursday testing its equipment and steamed for Gore Point where large pools of oil have gathered.
Local fishermen have been pulling their boats up to oil contained by plastic booms, dipping the crude up with scoops and buckets and then stacking the buckets on the sterns of their boats.
Coast Guard petty officer Brad Smith said delays unloading the oil were widespread and slowing progress on cleaning up the oil. He declined comment on whether more barges were needed and referred the question to Exxon.
Exxon also was under attack from environmentalists upset with the oil company's reluctance to open a sea otter treatment center at Seward.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Friday it had written Exxon strongly re-emphasizing the need for a second treatment center in addition to one at Valdez.
Spokesman Bruce Batten said his agency first asked for a center April 7 and asked that it be completed by Sunday.
"We're not really in a position where we can order them to do it, but we finally felt compelled to put it in writing," he said. Batten said the service is expanding its effort to rescue oil-coated otters off the outer coast of the Kenai Peninsula.
The Center for Marine Conservation estimated about 200 oiled sea otters have been found along the southern shoreline of the peninsula by fishermen.