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. penelope

    Sarah Palin's self-tanner.

    August 10, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Patty

    eggs or algae raining down from the sky and landing in buckets? how about a substance being jettisoned from a plane going by...

    August 12, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. jessicaber

    What is Jettisoned?

    August 12, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. del

    Blame it on global warming, you numb skull liberals.

    August 13, 2011 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
  5. Simon Cowell


    August 13, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. looney lucy 1

    were doomed!

    August 16, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. kyle

    i am getting tired of this whole zombie apocolypse thing, and the sad thing is a lot of you are probably serious. there are two reasons this has nothing to do with a "ZOMBIE APOCOLYPSE." 1: what does a zombie have to do with a orange oily substance washed up on shore and in buckets of a small alaskan village? 2: why the heck would zombies come out of the ocean? their bodies are buried on land. think logic before you start trying to convince people of this stuff.

    August 19, 2011 at 4:26 am | Report abuse |
  8. looney lucy 1

    my birthday was the 29th and were all still doomed!!!

    August 31, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
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