In Valdez, Alaska, the Coast Guard confirmed Saturday that a fresh oil sheen has seeped from the ruptured Exxon Valdez and that a complete cleanup of the damaged tanker is impossible.
Later in the day in Juneau, a package of bills aimed at protecting Alaska from another devastating oil spill like the one that fouled Prince William Sound was passed by the state Senate with little trouble.
"Oil is clinging to the tanks inside," said Vice Adm. Clyde Robbins, the federal on-the-scene coordinator. "What we're getting is that clinging oil mixed with water that causes sheen.
"Unfortunately, it's impossible to completely remove the oil unless you steam-clean the tanker, and nobody intends to do that," Robbins said.
Robbins did not give an estimate of how widespread the oil sheen, or shininess on the water's surface, had become.
He said he doubted the vessel, which is undergoing temporary repairs 30 miles from the March 24 site where the Exxon Valdez ruptured on a reef, will be moved soon.
"I'm estimating at least a month to six weeks," he said. "Obviously, this (ship) is a hot potato. Nobody in the Lower 48 (states) wants it. We may end up going to a foreign port."
Reacting to the largest oil spill in the nation's history, the Republican-led Senate acted with unusual speed to move the six bills through the chamber and to the House.
However, it appeared unlikely that the Democrat-controlled House would approve the entire package before adjournment, which is scheduled for May 9.
The Senate action came five weeks after the tanker Exxon Valdez struck a reef, spewing more than 11 million gallons of crude oil into the fish- and wildlife-rich sound.
The Senate bills would increase civil fines for spill damage; impose a surcharge on oil producers to boost the state's spill-response fund; prevent oil companies from deducting spill costs from their oil-production taxes; require the state to create spill contingency plans; establish a spill-response office and cleanup corps, and create a commission to investigate the Exxon Valdez spill.
More Bills Pending
More than a dozen other spill-related bills are still pending in both chambers of the Legislature.
Exxon reported Saturday that it has paid out $500,000 to 150 fishermen on claims of lost work. It is processing another 300 claims.