Mystery substance comes to shore of Alaskan village
This orange substance was found on the shore of Kivalina, Alaska, on Wednesday, residents say.
August 5th, 2011
09:44 PM ET

Mystery substance comes to shore of Alaskan village

State and federal scientists are trying to identify a mysterious orange substance that washed up on the shore of a village in northwestern Alaska this week.

Residents on Wednesday noticed an orange sheen in the lagoon in front of Kivalina, Alaska, and clumps of the substance on the beach, city manager Janet Mitchell said.

An orange sheen could be seen in the lagoon.

The stuff on the shore had "an oily feel to it, like baby oil," resident Mida Swan said Friday. She said she detected no odor from the substance.

The substance also may have rained down on the village Wednesday evening, because it was found in buckets that some residents used to collect rainwater that night, Mitchell said.

The state Environmental Health Laboratory is preparing to send samples to scientists at various labs, including a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration laboratory, said Emanuel Hignutt, the EHL's analytical chemistry manager.

Hignutt said it's not immediately clear what the substance is.

"There doesn't appear to be any evidence of a release of oil or hazardous substances at this time, but we're continuing to investigate and try to get lab determinations on what exactly the material is," Hignutt said.

"What it is - an algal bloom, or something inorganic - that's what we're working to get some more information on," he said.

Mitchell said the substance also was found in the Wulik River, which flows into the lagoon and is a source of the village's drinking water. She said the village would delay topping off its water storage tanks, which it does every summer so that it has enough water for the winter, until the substance is identified.

Kivalina, a village of about 430 people, is about 650 miles northwest of Anchorage, Alaska.

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Filed under: Alaska • Environment
soundoff (543 Responses)
  1. MrManhattan

    IT'S A WOMAN? wHO KNEW?

    August 6, 2011 at 4:37 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. MrManhattan

    MAYBE IT'S TIME TO SELL Alaska back to Russia?

    August 6, 2011 at 4:38 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Kanmerpoiuyhkjio

    Oh it's oil..

    August 6, 2011 at 4:45 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • hollydolly

      I agree, when you have the sea foam mixed with oil, it turns a dirty orange... someone was naughty. Or it possibly could be from a boat/ship whom has recently been sunk, and the oils "frothed" by a storm.

      August 6, 2011 at 6:42 am | Report abuse |
    • hollydolly

      Or it could be fire retardant...

      August 6, 2011 at 6:44 am | Report abuse |
  4. Big R

    I know what that glow was when u stepped on the sand-Jellyfish! When u step on them they give off a greenish glow-TRUE! Try it some time.

    August 6, 2011 at 4:47 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Big R

    Just don't do it barefoot! Lol. Not sure iff your an Idiot! Just FYI.

    August 6, 2011 at 4:49 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jon

      You're not your....genius.

      August 6, 2011 at 5:46 am | Report abuse |
    • hollydolly

      Oh my, the grammer nazi has arrived! Its the end of the world. Geezus!

      August 6, 2011 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |
  6. Big R

    *if

    August 6, 2011 at 4:49 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Al Boree

    This is not the governments business. Let the big corporations , nature and God take care of the problem.

    August 6, 2011 at 5:04 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark C

      Kill yourself now.

      August 6, 2011 at 5:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      What drugs are you on?

      August 6, 2011 at 5:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. RobCo Systems

    Spoor of the Great Old Ones. Looks like the stars are right...

    August 6, 2011 at 5:18 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Wally

    It's alien crap. They flew over Alaska and dumped their septic tanks before jumping to warp speed.

    Now that would be a sweet story!

    August 6, 2011 at 5:23 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Wally

    It's alien crap. They flew over Alaska and dumped their tanks before jumping to warp speed.

    Now that would be a sweet story!

    August 6, 2011 at 5:24 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Christine

    It's all fun and games now...but come September when the United States is overrun by Zombies, don't say I didn't warn you.

    You never touch the orange goo.

    August 6, 2011 at 5:48 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Bob

    It the start of the alien invasion. Your typical transform into a zombie freak.

    August 6, 2011 at 5:48 am | Report abuse | Reply
  13. SweetestLamb

    Crude mixed with methane would look like that.

    August 6, 2011 at 6:17 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Oh no

    Guys...2012

    August 6, 2011 at 6:19 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. russ

    Maybe it's Sarah Palin's movie reviews...

    August 6, 2011 at 6:22 am | Report abuse | Reply
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