The Coast Guard, along with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, City of Nome, Nome Volunteer Fire Department and National Weather Service spoke with local dredgers to make sure they are equipped with all of the tools and resources necessary to safely dredge for gold this season.
Gold dredging in Nome first caught the attention of the Coast Guard in 2011, when a recreational dredger passed away in an underwater dredging accident. Borg and Albright, Representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, who were sent to Nome to investigate the incident and found that many of the dredging vessels were unsafe.
“Our main focus was vessel safety and ensuring the vessels engaging in the dredging activities were properly outfitted with federal requirements for safety equipment,” Borg said.
With the purpose-built crafts that we’re looking at, a lot of them don’t take the fuels and oils and so forth into consideration when they’re building the boats,” Borg said, “So that was a big thing just to make sure they understood what their responsibilities were in the event that they released anything into the water.”
An oily sheen was released into the water when Goldenrod was first released into the Bering Sea (residue from a small hydraulic fuel leak). However, that has since been rectified as she now meets environmental and safety standards. Large fines are associated with vessels of those who do not comply with the Department of Natural Resources' standards that the state of Alaska sets.