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Alaskan Oil Spill

Oil Spill Brings Environmental Problems to Alaska
December of 2004 brought a devastating oil spill to the Bering Sea of Alaska and has presented many problems with the environment of this area. The Malaysian Selendang Ayu was in route to its destination when it was grounded in the Bering Sea. This caused the cargo ship to split dumping massive amounts of fuel into the sea. It has been estimated that 321,047 gallons of intermediate-grade fuel and 18,000 gallons of diesel fuel were lost in this tragedy. The numbers are far less than the eleven million gallons that were lost in the oil spill of the Exxon Valdese in 1989, but the aftermath of this spill is bringing devastation to the area.
The grounding site for the ship is an asylum for many sea birds and marine mammals. It is located in part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. This habitat is frequented by Stellar Sea Lions, Stellar Elders, and Aleutian Sea Otters. These species are considered endangered, and this is producing a wildlife problem in that respect. More than 1,600 birds have been confirmed dead from the accident already. Oil has been found on bald eagles and on the fur of red foxes. Difficulty has arrived for scientists who are trying to examine the environmental affects of the oil spill. The problems are coming from the fierce weather, treacherous terrain, remoteness of location, and lack of daylight due to the winter daylight time in Alaska. Additional studies are needed to determine the numbers of birds killed and the species that are involved.
Some of the Alaskan beaches have up to four feet of soybeans stacked along their shoreline. The Selendang Ayu was transporting 60,198 metric tons of soybeans to China. The crew members were mostly evacuated. However, six people were killed during rescue efforts when a large wave caused the Coast Guard rescue helicopter to crash.

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