Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 1 May 2000



(2000), "Pollution", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 9 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/dpm.2000.07309bac.006



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited


19 January 1999 - corporate pollution case, Georgia, USA

A Press report from Atlanta, dated 17 January, states: Three former officials of LCP Chemicals-Georgia Inc. have been convicted in what federal authorities have called one of the worst cases of corporate pollution in the USA. A US District Court jury found the three guilty of illegally releasing and storing hazardous materials and endangering workers at LCP's plant in Brunswick, GA, which was closed in 1994. The jury deliberated for just over four hours on the night of Friday, 15 January, before finding Christian A. Hansen Jr guilty on all 41 counts and his son Randall W. Hansen guilty on 34 counts. The elder Hansen, who is from New Jersey, was chief executive officer of the Hanlin Group Inc., the parent company of now bankrupt LCP, and his son, a Virginia resident, was chief operating officer. The jury found Alfred R. Taylor of Brunswick, a former manager of the plant, guilty on 20 counts. After receiving the verdicts, US Magistrate James E. Graham released all three defendants and gave them a week to post a $50,000 secured bond. No sentencing date was set. The charge of reckless endangerment in exposing plant employees to improperly stored hazardous materials carries a maximum 15-year term. Authorities said the plant discharged pollutants including mercury, chlorine and caustic soda into the environment at the 550-acre site in the marshes near Brunswick. They said the officials stored hazardous wastes without a permit, endangered employees and others with the unlawful storage of hazardous chemicals, and conspired to violate federal anti-pollution laws. The LCP plant has been declared a Superfund site by the US Environmental Protection Agency, which has been conducting a clean-up.

5 January 1999 - New Bedford, MA, USA

Emergency workers contained more than 300 gallons of fuel which spilled into New Bedford harbour after fvs Alyssa & Zuchay (78gt, built 1975) and California (58gt, built 1953), both 61ft in length, sank yesterday evening. According to Coast Guard spokesman Lt Paul King, the vessels sank off Twin Pier, spilling fuel and waste oil into the water. Officials learned of the spill around 22.30 hrs, King said. A clean-up crew had contained the spill today, and about 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel still on board the vessels had apparently not spilled, King said. Workers will try to retrieve the vessels today, overseen by the Coast Guard Marine Safety Office of Providence. It was not immediately known what caused the vessels to sink, or the extent of damage caused by the spill, King said.A salvage meeting took place regarding what action to take regarding salving the vessels. Pollution cleanup is due to be completed by 5 January.8 January 1999 - Press release from Coast Guard, Boston, states: Providence, RI: fvs Alyssa & Zachary and California sank together at the Twin Pier in New Bedford, MA, on the evening of Sunday 5 January, releasing approximately 400 gallons of diesel fuel and waste oil into New Bedford harbour. Both vessels are boomed off and their fuel vents were plugged by divers yesterday. The cause of the sinkings is under investigation by the Coast Guard. The owners of the vessels have been identified and will be paying for the clean-up and salvage. The response is being co-ordinated by the Coast Guard Marine Safety Office in Providence, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, and representatives from both vessels. Plans for salving the vessels were discussed at a meeting this morning. Two cranes will be brought to the Twin Pier from Fairhaven today and will set up to raise both vessels tomorrow.

4 January 1999 - Amrum Island, German North Sea

Following received from Fairplay, dated today: Mv Pallas is sinking into the sands off the German North Sea island of Amrum. The main deck and forecastle of the buckled hull are already under water. A German salvage expert warned that further efforts to remove the ship would cause more damage to the environment than leaving it in its current position. Dutch salvors have pumped the oil from the wreck, leaving a minimum amount in the tanks, but a final decision as to removal or otherwise will not be taken by German authorities until the winter has passed. Salvage operations were severely impaired by winter storms, and salvors initially focused their efforts on removing oil from the vessel. It has now been suggested that the vessel has been aground for so long that it will no longer be possible to salvage her.

12 January 1999 - Wales, UK

The trial of those accused of causing Wales's worst oil spill begins today, almost three years after the disaster devastated the Welsh coastline. Milford Haven Port Authority and its Harbour-master, Captain Mark Andrews, each face two charges concerning the grounding of m. tanker Sea Empress in which 72,000 tonnes of oil were spilled into the waters off the coast of West Wales in February 1996. The trial, at Cardiff Crown Court, will be held in front of Mr Justice Steel, and is expected to last up to a week. A jury is not expected to be sworn in to listen to the case, which has been brought by the Environment Agency. The start of the trial was welcomed yesterday by environment group, Friends of the Earth Cymru, which is considering its own private prosecution against the Department of Transport for its role in the disaster. The port authority, which was at the centre of the disaster three years ago, and the harbourmaster are each charged with two offences of causing pollution. The charges have been brought under both common law and the Water Resources Act of 1991. If proved, maximum penalties could run to unlimited fines or two years imprisonment. The charges were laid at Haverfordwest Magistrates' Court last summer, when the port authority and Captain Andrews were committed for trial at a crown court.16 January 1999 - Milford Haven Port Authority faces a financial crisis after being ordered to pay a record fine of £4 million as a result of the grounding of m. tanker Sea Empress, which produced one of the UK's worst oil disasters. The authority, which pleaded guilty to causing polluting matter to enter controlled waters, was ordered to pay £825,000 towards the £1.2 million costs of the Environment Agency, which brought the case. General manager Ted Sangster expressed confidence the port would survive but warned of the impact on short- and medium-term investment plans. In a statement the authority said that, together with its own legal costs, the total penalty would be more than £6 million. Environment Agency chief executive Ed Gallagher said: "This case is an important landmark in environmental protection, and the extent of the financial consequences of this incident will cause all those involved in oil production and transport to review their procedures seriously". The agency's general manager for Wales, Roger Thomas, said the main priority was that, with studies and reviews by the government, the case would lead to safety improvements to protect the environment at all ports. The Sea Empress, which was bringing crude oil to Milford Haven, ran aground at St Ann's Head on 15 February 1996. During the seven days she was grounded, 72,000 tonnes of light crude oil leaked, mainly at low tide. About 250 tonnes of heavy fuel oil were also released, along with a further 230 tonnes after the vessel was towed to a jetty. Oil reached the coastline of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, which has several nature reserves.15 February 1999 - The final liability bill for the oil spill from m. tanker Sea Empress could reach US$65 million, according to Skuld, which provided protection and indemnity cover for the vessel's owner. Today is the third anniversary of the spill which took place at Milford Haven, and the close of Admiralty Court business this afternoon marks the cut-off for the issuing of writs. Jonathan Hare, senior lawyer in Skuld's legal department, said the club was not expecting a sudden flood of new claims. However, nor was the Norwegian P&I club taking anything for granted. The total likely amount of claims on the Sea Empress, including those settled already, is likely to be in the region of $50 million-$65 million, Skuld said. Skuld has expressed satisfaction that the expected sum is below the total compensation of $83m available under the International Fund Convention and the Civil Liability Convention. Skuld says that a total of $24m has already been paid out, $1.1 million of which has been paid by Skuld directly and the remainder through the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPC). Since writs do not have to be served immediately, the complete claims picture should be clear by 15 April at the latest. Mr Hare refused to say how long thereafter Skuld expected the settlement process to continue. He said that until last Friday afternoon, 12 February, three writs had been served, two of which came from UK Government departments and one from a private tourist. Solicitors or claimants had given notice that a further 15 writs had been issued. One of the Government claims was for $18.5 million in clean-up costs, served by the Marine Pollution Control Unit, a division of the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions. The related costs, served by the Centre for the Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, another unit of the omnibus transport department. Mr Hare said that though the $18.5 million the Government was demanding was "uncontroversial", the insurers reserved the right to refuse certain items of expenditure pending a review of the actual claim. He added that the Government writs had been served as a matter of process, simply because the claims had not been settled prior to the time-bar. The UK Government is understood to have agreed at the outset "to stand last in the queue" for its money, in order to ensure that there is enough money to pay the other claimants. The cost of cleaning-up has been identified as the largest claim category, totalling about $33 million. The balance in excess of the UK Government's $18.5 million is understood to stem from claims by Pembrokeshire County Council and the Carmarthenshire local authority. The Government report citing "pilot error caused by inadequate training and experience in pilotage at Milford Haven" and the £4 million fine recently imposed in Cardiff Crown Court were seen as further vindications. The port is appealing against the fine. Overall, Mr Hare said around 1,000 claims had been received to date. He did not have an exact figure for the ones settled but said "a great majority had walked away with an acceptable settlement".18 February 1999 - Milford Haven Port Authority, currently battling to deflect the record £4 million fine imposed last month by Cardiff Crown Court, might soon find itself facing a civil lawsuit seeking up to US$100 million in compensation and costs after the oil spill from m. tanker Sea Empress. Protection and indemnity club Skuld, the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund, hull insurers Storebrand and shipowner John Fredriksen could team up as plaintiffs seeking redress for liabilities incurred, in view of the Maritime Accident Investigation Board's finding that pilotage standards at Milford Haven were inadequate. Mr Fredriksen's Sea Tankers and Storebrand were last month reported to be considering a civil suit against the port authority, seeking $10 million and $30 million respectively towards lost charter hire and vessel repair. The $50 million to $65 million Skuld and the IPOC end up paying against claims could be added as part of an omnibus civil suit. The three parties and the law firm Ince & Co. are expected to decide in March whether such a case could be brought.

15 January 1999 - Buenos Aires

M. tanker Estrella Pampeana (37,685 gt, built 1981) and m. container vessel Sea Parana (23,897 gt, built 1997) collided in the River Plate today, leaving a large oil slick but causing no injuries, the Coast Guard said. A 200 yards by 500 yards slick poured out of the Estrella Pampeana. No river traffic was blocked as a result of the collision, Luis Alfredo Rindel, Coast Guard operations chief in the River Plate zone, said. The Estrella Pampeana was loaded with 30,000 tonnes of crude and was entering the port of Buenos Aires from Caleta Olivia, Santa Cruz province. The Sea Parana was bound for Brazil. The two vessels were now headed for a mooring in Raba La Plata and would arrive later in the evening under their own steam, Rindel said.16 January 1999 - M. tanker Estrella Pampeana, in collision with m. container vessel Sea Parana: Oil spillage from Estrella Pampeana stopped. Only one cargo tank was breached.18 January 1999 - At approximately 14.30, on 15 January, while m. tanker Estrella Pampeana was sailing from Caleta Olivia, Argentina, loaded with approximately 30,000 tonnes of crude oil, bound for the port of Dock Sud, Buenos Aires, collided at km 93 of the River Plate, Intermediate River Plate Channel, with m container vessel Sea Parana, which was sailing from the port of the Dock Sud, loaded with containers, bound for a Brazilian port. Estrella Pampeana sustained damages in way of port side plating, with consequent spillage of about 200/250 tonnes of crude oil. Estrella Pampeana continued her voyage, arriving at Dock Sud at approximately 15.30, 16 January. On berthing, she commenced unloading operations, which reportedly were to be completed during the evening of 17 January. Sea Parana sustained severe damages by way of bow and port side plating. Currently, she remains anchored at Zona Comun, La Plata roads, and owners are evaluating future measures to be taken. In spite of the contingency measures taken by the Coast Guard and Shell Oil Company, the visible polluted area of the river has reportedly reached the beach of a private ranch, located south of Magdalena, Buenos Aires. Clean-up work will now be done on land. The Coast Guard continued placing floating barriers at the mouths of rivers and streams in the area, in order to prevent the pollution from moving inland. Shell reported that approximately 150m3 of oil were recovered from the river and that a large part of the original slick had evaporated.21 January 1999 - A press report from Buenos Aires, dated 20 January, states: Last week's oil spill in the River Plate estuary will have a serious impact on area plant and animal life, an environmental official said today. A considerable quantity of crude petroleum leaked from m. tanker Estrello Pampeana, carrying oil for the Anglo-Dutch company Shell Oil, when she collided with m. container vessel Sea Parana on Friday, 15 January some 80km downriver from Buenos Aires. The spill, currently covering some 100,000m2, is already some 20km offshore from Magdalena Province, the nearest coastline. The remains of oil-soaked birds had already washed up on the shore, said Flavio Maschione, an environmental official with the province of Buenos Aires. Maschione, who criticised the Government for moving slowly in the early hours of the clean-up, said it could take between five and 16 months for the area to recover. The Government lacks the resources to stop the spill from spreading, Maschione said, and has asked Shell to present a clean-up plan. Shell has already contributed 50 workers who are using vacuum pumps to remove the oil. Clean-up crews worked throughout the weekend, 16-17 January, and managed to lift some 150m3 of crude by late Sunday.22 January 1999 - Environmental group Greenpeace accused Royal Dutch/Shell Group of negligence today in its handling of operations to control a crude oil spill in the River Plate. "Shell is an amateur operation with no serious contingency plan", Greenpeace Argentina head Martin Prieto said. "They're working with buckets to pick up the oil." Shell declined to comment on Greenpeace's remarks. Crude oil covering 1,500yd3 snaked out of m. tanker Estrella Pampeana after she was in collision with a German container vessel (Sea Parana) last Friday, 15 January. Argentina's Coast Guard said on Friday that the length of the slick had been reduced to 2.8 miles from 3.1 miles. Some of the oil washed up on the Magdalena coast 60 miles south of Buenos Aires. "It's inexplicable that a company of Shell's magnitude has not put into action a plan to limit the oil slick, which continues without being fenced in", said Prieto. Greenpeace said Shell is only cleaning stretches of the coastline that are accessible by highway.4 February 1999 - A public prosecutor in La Plata, Buenos Aires, has opened a criminal investigation into a crude oil spill from a collision between m. tanker Estrella Pampeana and m. container vessel Sea Parana, according to the La Plata newspaper El Dia. In court documents, prosecutor Marcelo Romero says that those responsible for the spill could face three to ten years in prison for poisoning a potable water supply. Romero based the accusation on an alert issued by state environmental officials on 26 January, when several patches of oil menaced the public water intake for 140,000 people at Punta Lara, Buenos Aires, according to El Dia. Officials insist that continual monitoring shows that oil in the water supply remains at background levels, El Dia reports. However, Romero says that he will investigate whether public health is in danger. Contending that uncollected, emulsified oil continues to threaten the water supply, town officials in Berisso, Buenos Aires, asked the Argentine Coast Guard on 3 February to extend barriers containing the remaining oil slick, El Dia reports. Oil has penetrated five tributaries of the River Plate and 800m of the coast remains intensely oiled, Berisso Civil Defence Director Robert Scafatti told the newspaper on 3 February. A storm on 31 January broke a containment boom and swept away drums of recovered oil, spreading emulsion along another 4km of coastline, the newspaper reports. On 29 January, Romero expanded his probe to include whether criminal negligence contributed to the 15 January collision of the Estrella Pampeana and the Sea Parana. In Argentina, causing a shipwreck through negligence, inexperience, or inattention to regulations is punishable by six months to two years in prison, according to El Dia. Romero left room to expand his investigation based on findings by scientists on the damage to the South Coastal Park, which he called "the last reserve of the Pampan biosphere," according to the newspaper. At the invitation of local officials, a US-based United Nations expert has agreed to examine the damage and review Shell's remediation plan, El Dia reports. By 2 February, several local elected officials accused the authorities of trying to cover up an ineffective response. Officials of Shell Argentina told a crisis meeting of state and local officials on 30 January that more than 1.4 million gallons of oil (nearly 4,800 tonnes) had hit the coast and that about 10 per cent of it remained, according to El Dia. That is many times larger than previous, unofficial spill estimates. In official statements, Shell has said that oil poured from a 6m by 7m hole in a 1.5 million gallon (5,000-tonne) cargo tank of the Estrella Pampeana after the collision on 15 January. However, Shell says that the tanker crew quickly stemmed the leak and that half the spilled oil evaporated before reaching shore near Magdalena, Buenos Aires, on 17 January. As quoted by El Dia, local officials were initially optimistic about the spill response, satisfied by promises that the oil would be gone from tourist beaches by the weekend of 23-24 January. However, afterwards slicks broke containment at Magdalena at least twice and contaminated additional shoreline, according to the newspaper. The worst breach occurred 31 January, when a storm broke a cordon of containment booms and 2m waves swept 55-gallon drums of recovered oil off the beach at Magdalena, El Dia reported. Swells drove the loose oil deep into marshes and woodlands along another 4km of coastline, a local official said.2 February 1999 - Following received from "Fairplay", dated today: Steering gear failure on m. container vessel Sea Parana, now Primus, led to an abrupt change of course while in the River Plate on 15 January. The vessel's bulbous bow hit m. tanker Estrella Pampeana on her port side.

18 January 1999 - River Danube, Bulgaria

A Press report from Sofia, dated today, states: A three-mile-long oil slick was floating down the Bulgarian stretch of the Danube River, the Environmental Ministry reported today. The 656ft-wide fuel slick entered the Bulgarian coastal area early this morning. It followed a 34-mile slick that came from the Yugoslavian section of the river on Wednesday, 13 January. The origin of the slicks was not immediately known. Officials were quoted by Bulgarian media as suggesting that they may have come from Yugoslav ports or ships on the river. The oil has contaminated Bulgarian river banks.19 January 1999 - The Yugoslav Weather Office denied today reports that pollution of the River Danube originates from Yugoslavia and said Bulgarian media reports were a part of a wider anti-Yugoslav campaign. "There is no trace of an oil spill in Yugoslav territory. Bulgarian media have been warning for two days about an oil spill, allegedly coming from Yugoslavia, which can be observed as a part of a wider media campaign against our country", Tanjug news agency quoted the Yugoslav Weather Office as saying. Bulgaria's Environment Minister yesterday requested information from Serbia about frequent oil spills floating downstream on the River Danube. Yesterday, it reported a new 5km spill of light oil near the western Bulgarian town of Vidin. "All possible sources (of pollution), starting from the hydroelectric power plant Djerdap 2 to the River Timok, have been checked and investigated. We also consulted colleagues in Romania, which shows the pollution as reported by Bulgarian media is not coming from Yugoslavia", the Weather Office said.20 January 1999 - Bulgaria's Civil Defence today reported a 7km oil spill floating downstream on the River Danube, the third within a week. The slick will not affect the operation of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant located on the river bank, Civil Defence said. "All measures have been taken to absorb and clean the new slick with machines before it reaches Kozloduy", a Civil Defence duty officer said. The spill up to 250m wide was first noticed at the mouth of the River Timok flowing into the Danube along the border with Yugoslavia. "Our checks show the origin of the pollution is outside Bulgarian territory", said the official. In response to Bulgarian requests to locate the origin of the spills, the Yugoslav Weather Office denied yesterday reports that the pollution originated from Yugoslavia. A huge diesel oil spill, which before breaking into smaller patches was 55km long and 300m wide, seriously alarmed Bulgarian authorities a week ago. A second smaller, 5km light oil spill was spotted on Monday near Bulgaria's western most town of Vidin.

19 January 1999 - London, UK

The owners of m. bulk carrier Luckyman, 17,512 gt, built 1980, have been fined £7,500 ($12,500), plus £960 costs in Southampton Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to pollution charges. The prosecution was brought by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's enforcement arm under the Merchant Shipping, Prevention of Oil Regulations 1996. A Netherlands Coast Guard spotter plane identified an 18-mile oil slick - with the Luckyman at its head - when the vessel was about 40 miles east of Wick, en route from Liverpool to Poland, in June 1998.

2 February 1999 - Hamburg, Germany

In today's Daily Harbour Report it is reported that m. tanker Kilchem Bothnia (4,072 gt, built 1985) is not allowed to leave the port of Hamburg. A suit was brought before the court by the town of Norderney because more than 200cbm of paraffin from the vessel soiled the beaches of some North Sea islands. So far, costs for cleaning and dumping of about DM250,000 have been incurred.

3 February 1999 - New York, USA

An oil barge suffers a spill, closing a waterway and damaging nearby marshes. Can damages be recovered for closing the waterway, or for the mess left behind? Yes, according to a proposed settlement in a case where tank barge Cibro Savannah spewed oil into a New York-area ship channel and soaked the shoreline. The spill set the stage for the first case in the nation where a court has agreed that a government can recover natural-resource damages for closure of a waterway. On 6 March, 1990, Cibro Savannah exploded and burned near Linden, NJ, spilling home-heating oil into the Arthur Kill, a ship channel between Staten Island and northern New Jersey. Oil spread and fouled wetlands in New Jersey. The mess closed portions of the Arthur Kill for nine days, curbing industry there. "This loss of use of the waterway and the damage to wetlands are the basis of the governments' natural-resource damages claim, which was brought under the Federal Clean Water Act and New York and New Jersey environmental laws", said New Jersey and New York state officials in jointly announcing the settlement. The officials are New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner John P. Cahill and New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, along with New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Shinn. Montauk Oil Transportation Corp., owner of the barge, had agreed to a $1.4 million judgment, they said in the announcement. "Under the terms of the settlement, Bouchard Transportation Co., the charterer of the barge, and a majority of stockholders of the Montauk Oil have agreed to pay $550,000 (from the $1.4 million) to New York, New Jersey and the federal government", they said, adding, the governments will seek, through the courts, the remaining portion of the $1.4 million judgment from shareholders that did not agree to this settlement. Of the $550,000 settlement, $328,940 is for damages to natural resources. New York will receive $88,940, with the balance going to New Jersey. New York says its share will be spent on natural resources in New York harbour. New Jersey says it will spend its share restoring damaged wetlands. The proposed settlement has been given to US District Court for the Southern District for public comment. Following a comment period that ends on 27 February, the court will decide whether to approve it, which is considered likely.

5 February 1999 - USA

Following received from Marine Safety Office, Charleston, SC, dated 4 February: Coast Guard Marine Safety Office Charleston has identified m.v. Star Evviva (24,479 gt, built 1982) as the source of the oil spill which oiled the birds found washed ashore recently in South Carolina and North Carolina. The Coast Guard determined the source after oil samples taken from birds recovered in both states were compared at their Marine Safety Laboratories with samples taken from Star Evviva. Coast Guard pollution investigators were informed by company representatives that approximately 24,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil was released into the Atlantic Ocean as the vessel passed the coast of South Carolina. The Coast Guard is now exploring enforcement options with federal and state officials. The Coast Guard has been working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the North Carolina Wildlife Commission to manage the retrieval and rehabilitation of the oiled birds. Almost 200 oiled birds have been recovered, the majority of which were common loons. However, red-throated loons, ring-billed gulls, double-crested cormorants, gannets and scoters were also affected. US Fish and Wildlife Service hired Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, Inc. to assist the resource agencies and local volunteers in the medical treatment and rehabilitation of the oiled birds at an emergency rehabilitation centre established at the former Air Force Base in Myrtle Beach, SC. Shoreline patrols and aerial surveillance have continued, but no oiled birds have been discovered since Friday, 29 January. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, many of the recovered birds have died as a direct result of the oil exposure. Some of the birds are recovering, however, and will soon be ready for release

8 February 1999 - Anchorage, Alaska

Information received, dated 7 February, states: m. tanker Chesapeake Trader (27,894 gt, built 1982), anchored in Cook Inlet near Homer leaked about 420 gallons of crude into the sea on 6 February, but the Coast Guard said rough and favourable winds will probably push the oil away from land and disperse it. The vessel, carrying crude for Tesoro Alaska Petroleum Corp., developed a crack on a holding tank in the forward, right side of the vessel. She was 15 miles west of Homer when a crewman noticed the leak, said Coast Guard Lt Cmdr Rick Rodriguez, who was overseeing the incident on the evening of 6 February. Rodriguez said waves to 4ft and northerly winds to 20 knots likely would disperse the quarter-mile sheen before it reached a beach or could be collected. Spill responders were headed to the vessel late on 6 February, with absorbent sheets to try to collect some of the crude. The vessel's crew noticed the leak at about 11.30, and reported it to the Coast Guard 20 minutes later, Rodriguez said. By about 17.00, the crew had managed to pump enough oil from the damaged tank into another tank to stop the leak, he said. Ron Noel, a spokesman for Tesoro Alaska, said the vessel was carrying 205,000 barrels of Cook Inlet crude and another 75,000 barrels of a lighter, refined crude. It loaded the unrefined oil at the Drift River terminal on the west side of Cook Inlet on 5 February and was supposed to deliver it to Tesoro's refinery in Nikiski, on the Islet's east side, later in the day. However, high winds and cold weather hampered attempts to hook up lines to unload the oil, Noel said, so the captain decided to head towards Homer that night and wait out the weather. A crewman noticed the leak the next morning (6 February), he said. The Coast Guard, the state Department of Environment Conservation and an engineer from the ships company were expected to arrive at the vessel on 7 February to assess the situation and decide how to repair the vessel.11 February 1999 - A press report, dated 9 February, Anchorage, states: m. tanker Chesapeake Trader that leaked crude oil in ice-choked Cook Inlet over the weekend was holing up at the mouth of Kachemak Bay yesterday, out of the wind and out of further trouble, officials said. The estimated 420 gallons of oil spilled 15 miles west of Homer Saturday morning by Chesapeake Trader has apparently evaporated or dispersed, and no shoreline has been soiled nor any wildlife harmed, said Brad Hahn, South-central spill response manager for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. "We've moved from a threatening situation to one not posing any threat", Hahn said. "We have a damaged vessel, not a leaking vessel", Marine pilots have decided the ice is currently too thick for them to bring tankers to the docks at Nikiski and the Drift River Terminal across the Inlet from Nikiski, said Lt Cmdr Rick Rodriguez, the operations officer for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety Office. "We support the pilots' decision", Rodriguez said. Chesapeake Trader, chartered by Tesoro Alaska Petroleum Corp., was at Nikiski Friday night when her master ceased off-loading crude because of the ice. He took the tanker south through heavy ice toward Homer. The leak was discovered the next morning. The tanker's hull has a double bottom but single sides, said Tesoro Alaska spokesman Ron Noel. The leak apparently occurred when an ice floe hit the starboard side of the bow at waterline, Hahn said. A dinner plate-sized portion of the hull was dented, and three 4in. cracks laced the indentation like the tines of a pitchfork, he said. Oil from the damaged tank was transferred to other tanks, and the tanker still holds 280,000 barrels, or more than 11 million gallons, of oil. The vessel was anchored about three-and-a-half miles off Bluff Point yesterday. The Chesapeake Trader is seaworthy and is capable of offloading her remaining cargo, authorities said. It has not been decided where that will happen.11 February 1999 - A press report, dated today, Anchorage, states: A report from Soldotna states: patties of ice clogging Cook Inlet have stalled large vessels that ferry oil, natural gas and ammonia in and out of the port of Nikiski since Saturday (6 February), when ice cracked the chilled steel hull of m. tanker Chesapeake Trader. After the damaged tanker spilt crude oil into the Inlet, and other vessels had trouble docking, marine pilots, the US Coast guard and dock owners agreed that conditions were too dangerous. "We have not come out and said, 'The port is closed', but we could if it was bad enough and we felt people were taking unnecessary risks", said Lt Chris Woodle, supervisor of the Coast Guard marine safety detachment in Kenai. "But no one's doing that." While motoring through the icy waters puts vessels in some peril, Woodle said the real danger lies in docking a large vessel for 24 hours while swift tides slam giant blocks of ice into the hull. Last week, such rammings snapped cables that tied vessels to docks, he said. In one case, lines broke and a dock operated by Unocal was damaged. "People who have lived up here 20-30 years are saying it's some of the worst (ice) they've seen", he said. Even though subzero temperatures continued yesterday, south winds blew ice pans away from Nikiski's industrial docks, he said. One of three vessels waiting near the entrance to the Inlet, m. LPG carrier Gas Columbia, was to attempt docking last night, Woodle said. "Today there's open water at the docks which would allow a vessel to come in and tie up, but that could change in a couple of hours", he said. "It's not only day to day, but tide to tide." If the Gas Columbia succeeds, it will leave two vessels, the damaged Chesapeake Trader and a liquefied natural gas vessel, waiting at anchor off Bluff Point north of Homer", Woodle said. He said welders from Homer were scheduled to patch the tanker's cracked hull, but whether the vessel would take another attempt at unloading her cargo of Inlet crude oil or retreat to a Port in Washington state was not known.

9 February 1999 - Barrington, Australia

An anomaly in the behaviour of a tug in close quarters with another vessel is thought to have been responsible for a collision between m. tug Austral Salvor and m. tanker Barrington in Australia's Brisbane River, in Queensland, resulting in the latter spilling an estimated 22 tonnes of heavy fuel oil. The incident occurred on 27 April 1998, when the Barrington was inbound to the Ampol Wharf in the Brisbane River. Austral Salvor was waiting off Clara Rock for the Barrington to approach. The vessel was under the control of a trainee tug master, with a supervising tug master close at hand. On approaching the Barrington, the trainee tug master adjusted the speed of the Austral Salvor to enable him to position his vessel correctly off the Barrington. While the Austral Salvor was closing with the Barrington, the trainee tug master was reducing the speed further when he noticed the bow of the tug sheering to starboard towards the Barrington. The tug master took control and attempted to arrest the sheer. This was halted, but the stern swung in and the tug rolled, making contact with the Barrington just above the waterline. The shell plating on the Barrington was holed at the point of contact, near the port heavy oil storage tank, spilling fuel oil into the river and requiring the vessel to undertake two days of repairs at Cairncross Dockyard. A departmental investigation by Australia's Marine Incident Investigation Unit found that in handling the unilever to adjust the speed of the Austral Salvor, the trainee left on a component of starboard thrust, causing the bow to sheer to starboard, contributing to the incident. Further, despite the efforts of the tug master to correct the sheer of the bow to starboard, said the report, as the stern of the tug closed within 4m, interaction forces contributed to the tug's momentum towards the Barrington, causing the stern of the tug to make contact with the vessel's side.

11 February 1999 - Bocaue, Philippines

Reported tanker Delster (m. tanker Delstar, 998 gt, built 1973), struck the port side of m. tanker Bocaue (597 gt, built 1997), owned by Herma Shipping Lines, at 16.20, 9 February, while manoeuvring at the Petro Refinery pier in Balanga, Bataan, causing thousands of litres of oil and gasoline to spill into the waters of Limay. Police said that the impact tore a 4in. diameter hole in Bocaue, from which gushed thousands of litres of gasoline it had just loaded. Police blame the incident on human error, but some sources said the dilapidated Delster malfunctioned in the manoeuvre. It was further reported that Delster is already obsolete and no longer fit to transport such big volumes of gasoline and oil. The oil spill was immediately contained through the use of chemicals, but local officials said they will continue to monitor the oil and gasoline spills to make sure that these will not escape to nearby areas.12 February 1999 - A report from "Fairplay", dated 11 February, states: A domestic oil carrier has been in collision with another inter-island tanker near the refinery of Petron Corp. in the Philippines, spilling thousands of litres of gasoline and oil at Limay, Bataan. An indeterminate amount of the cargo of 40,000 litres of gasoline of m. tanker Bocaue was spilled from a 4in. hole amidship after it was hit by the rudder of m. tanker Delstar. The incident occurred while Delstar, owned by Delsan Transport Lines, was manoeuvring. Bocaue, owned by Herma Tankers, had just loaded her cargo of gasoline when the incident occurred. Sources said Delstar malfunctioned during the manoeuvre. Coast Guard officials said the oil and gasoline spills are threatening Limay and its neighbouring towns.

12 February 1999 - Oregon coast, USA

Britannia Steam Ship Insurance Association said yesterday that it was the protection and indemnity insurer of the m. wood-chip carrier New Carissa, which was leaking fuel oil near Coos Bay, Oregon. The vessel, without cargo at the time of the incident, has already leaked thousands of tons of fuel oil on to the Oregon coast. Britannia, which covers the shipowner's liability risks, faces large claims for the cost of cleaning up the pollution damage and further claims if the owner is fined by US authorities for the spill. A spokesman for Britannia said he could not estimate the total cost of an insurance pay-out at this stage. He said a claims office had been established at Coos Bay where local people could make claims for damage, a measure required by US pollution legislation. Marine spill experts were attempting to detonate explosive charges on board the vessel yesterday in an effort to burn off the remaining 400,000 gallons of fuel and limit environmental damage. The vessel has been declared a total loss after her hull cracked and fuel tanks breached. Market sources have not said which insurers covered the vessel's hull risks.11 February 1999 - Navy demolition experts today detonated powerful explosives on board grounded m. wood-chip carrier New Carissa, in a second attempt to burn off her remaining fuel before the relentless surf pounds the vessel to pieces. A spectacular fireball rose several hundred feet from one end of the disabled vessel as the charges were detonated at about 20.05, EST (01.45, UTC, 12 February), followed by a steady plume of thick, black smoke drifting out to sea. Incendiary grenades which were detonated late yesterday failed to ignite the heavy fuel oil on board the vessel, leaving miles of pristine Oregon beaches in danger of a disastrous spill. Thick tar from the stranded vessel has already washed ashore in some places, covering seabirds with oil. However, officials said they believed most of the 400,000 gallons of bunker fuel remained on the vessel. The demolition experts from Whibey Island Naval Air Station near Seattle spent all day today laying more powerful explosives intended to cut through the vessel's fuel tanks, allowing the fuel oil to flood the empty cargo holds. Barrels of napalm-like incendiary gel were set into the cargo holds to make sure the oil was ignited. Officials predicted the oil would burn for up to five days, sending up a plume of oily smoke seen as preferable to a major spill.12 February 1999 - Thick columns of black smoke billowed from the burning halves of a grounded freighter today after a Navy team set off a massive explosion that experts said averted a potentially disastrous oil spill. M. wood-chip carrier New Carissa split in two late yesterday about five hours after authorities detonated an arsenal of explosives laid on board to burn as much remaining fuel as possible. While gooey, tar-like oil continued to wash on to miles of pristine sandy beaches, officials said the fire was a success that would likely burn 90 per cent of the 400,000 gallons of fuel the empty vessel was carrying when it ran aground on 4 February. "I am confident we are not going to have greater problems than we already have", said Coast Guard Capt. Mike Hali, the incident commander. The technique of burning a ship to prevent its fuel from spilling, accepting air pollution as a trade-off for protecting environmentally sensitive beaches, never had been tried before in the USA outside Alaska. But Jerry Craft of Williams Fire & Hazard Control Inc., near Houston, said the Oregon ship blast would set a standard for future marine accidents. "I compliment the Coast Guard, the Navy and the community for making the right decision about this burning process", said Craft, who acted as a consultant. He said that by 18.00, local time, today, 24 hours after the blast, about 90 per cent of the fuel would be burned, leaving behind a waxy, mostly solid residue. Hundreds of workers dressed in bright yellow rain slickers continued the laborious process of cleaning several miles of fouled beaches, scraping up blackened sand with shovels and hauling it away in bags. Several oil-covered birds have died as a result of the spill, which affected breeding and nesting grounds of the threatened western snowy plover among other animals.12 February 1999 - A huge fire in the wreck of the grounded m. wood-chip carrier New Carissa was burning itself out today as authorities said their strategy of blowing up the vessel's fuel supply had averted a potentially disastrous oil spill. Thick grey smoke billowed from the bow section of the vessel nearly 24 hours after a special Navy team blasted her with napalm and other explosives, while the smaller stern portion was barely smouldering.15 February 1999 - A press report from Coos Bay, Oregon, dated 14 February, states: Demolition experts attempted to torch the remaining fuel from m. wood-chip carrier New Carissa today, estimating that 90 per cent of the oil has been burned-off the grounded, heavily listing vessel. A helicopter dropped a fire accelerant on the vessel this afternoon to re-ignite one of the cargo holds, which may have as much as 50,000 gallons of fuel oil remaining. The practice was repeated several times throughout the afternoon, as the fire kept going out.16 February 1999 - Crews made another attempt today at igniting the oil left on m. wood-chip carrier New Carissa while officials announced a plan to tow the bow section of the wreckage out to sea and sink it in deep water. Most of the 400,000 gallons of oil on the vessel was burned off last week and officials say no more than 10 per cent is left. The residual oil has transformed into a thicker, waxier substance that is harder to burn. The fuel pouring from the two halves of the New Carissa, which grounded nearly two weeks ago, was washing up on a nearby beach, where 300 clean-up workers were scraping it up, Coast Guard officials said. Meanwhile, the environmental toll grew, with 37 dead birds found so far and oyster harvests ordered halted. Shellfish samples were being analysed for contamination. The tentative plan calls for re-floating the larger bow section, towing it 200 miles out to sea where depths exceed 9,000ft and sinking it, said Tom Berglond, a spokesman from the joint information centre.16 February 1999 - M. wood-chip carrier New Carissa: Following received from United States Coast Guard, timed 10.30, 16 February: In a continuing effort to determine the environmental threat from the New Carissa, a technical assessment team boarded the 440ft bow section yesterday for the first time since ignition efforts began and determined that 130,000 to 150,000 gallons of oil remain in the bow. "A technical crew went on board to see what counter-measures we can take beyond burning and to evaluate the condition of the vessel", said Mike Szerlog, state on-scene commander. "they found that the remaining oil is of a thick viscous consistency and the condition of the vessel requires quick action". Because of the thickness of the remaining oil, pumping it from the vessel would be difficult and time-consuming, and soaking it up with snares would take months. Additionally the crew found the vessel to have extreme metal structure members. Beach clean-up efforts will continue in full force today. The top priority of the Unified Command remains to continue with the clean-up as best possible and to determine and implement the safest options for removing the two pieces from the beach.17 February 1999 - A press report, dated Coos Bay today, states: About a third of the molasses like fuel oil on board grounded m wood-chip carrier New Carissa has failed to burn, and some 70,000 gallons may have spilled, far more than originally believed. The new figures mean that less than half the nearly 400,000 gallons of fuel on board New Carissa at her grounding was burned off in fires ignited by a Navy explosives team last week. Now the plan is to tow the broken bow of New Carissa nearly 200 miles out to the deep Pacific to scuttle it. An inspection team determined yesterday the forward two-thirds of the vessel still contains about 135,000 gallons of fuel oil, Coast Guard Lt Cmdr Ed Parsons said. Sinking the 440ft forward section actually would help contain the remaining fuel oil, which is like a gooey black syrup, Parsons said. "The idea would be that this oil is already thick and viscous. If you get it down to these depths, about 5,000 feet, it will be very cold and under pressure, which will help immobilise it and contain it", he said. Plans had not been made yesterday to move the smaller 200ft stern, of the vessel. Her fuel tanks were inaccessible for inspection, Parsons said, but it had burned for more than 24 hours. "We're hopeful that a lot of that burned if there was any left", he said. M. tug Sea Victory, from Crowley Marine Services Inc., Seattle, was expected to tow the vessel's carcass out to sea. In the meantime, naval architects were working out details of the plan, which still requires approval of the Commandant of the Coast Guard. A memo dated 10 February, obtained yesterday, shows the US Environmental Protection Agency has waived all environmental permits required for scuttling the vessel because the Coast Guard has declared a state of emergency. US law bans scuttling vessels on the high seas when oil is on board, but it allows waivers in emergencies. "The exact position is still being worked on, but the criterion that we're going on is based on an international agreement for this type of thing", Parsons said. "It mandates 150 miles distance and greater than 2,000m in depth. This spot would exceed both of those." Gov. John Kitzhaber yesterday named a multi-agency team, led by Department of Environmental Quality Director Langdon Marsh, to monitor the state's clean-up and restoration efforts. "I will be briefed by this group daily as the situation with the New Carissa evolves", Kitzhaber said in a news release. A Coast Guard board of inquiry was scheduled to convene tomorrow in Portland to look into the cause of the accident and whether US law or regulations were violated.17 February 1999 - Reports from Oregon suggest that progress has been made in the clean up of fuel oil from m. wood-chip carrier New Carissa, grounded just north of Coos Bay. Captain Mike Hall, federal on-scene co-ordinator for the unified command, said the burning of the oil on board the New Carissa has successfully averted a more serious environmental problem and clean up crews have significantly reduced oil and debris on the shoreline. Containment and removal of the remaining fuel on board and the eventual removal of the New Carissa is a priority for authorities. On 15 February, the unified command authorised the ongoing re-ignition of the residual oil, to burn as much as possible. Preliminary removal plans for the wreck are under discussion.17 February 1999 - The US Coast Guard reported this morning: On 15 February, a site assessment team found approximately 135,000 gallon-carrier New Carissa. Tank No. 2 contains about 100,000 gallons, the rest is in tank No. 1. Estimates are that approximately 50,000 to 70,000 gallons of diesel and bunker fuel have spilled from the vessel, approximately 20 per cent of that evaporated. The consistency of the residual oil in the vessel is a thick, waxy substance, which will reduce the risk of oil leaking on to the shoreline, but will make it difficult to burn. A sample was collected in a jar and could not be poured out. Winds, of 16 February, were high and swells were about 21ft, hampering clean-up and wildlife surveying procedures. Southerly winds of approximately 20 knots are expected today and swells should decrease to about 14ft. A storm is expected tomorrow, bringing south-southeast winds of 30 knots and 20ft swells. Over-flights yesterday afternoon were cut short due to the weather, but the only oil visible was near the vessel.Since she ran aground off the central Oregon coast this month, m. wood-chip carrier New Carissa has been attacked by powerful explosives, doused with flaming jets of napalm and broken in half by powerful waves. Now the US Coast Guard plans to tow what remains of the vessel 200 miles and scuttle her in deep waters, although she still holds 135,000 gallons of fuel oil, officials said today. After Navy experts set off a powerful explosion in the disabled vessel's cargo hold last Thursday (11 February), aiming to limit the spill's impact on the fragile coastal ecosystem, officials estimated that 90 per cent of the vessel's 400,000 gallons of fuel would be burned. That estimate proved over-optimistic. Officials now say some 70,000 gallons of bunker fuel and other oil has leaked from the vessel, washing up as tar balls on miles of pristine, sandy beaches. Officials said the remaining oil aboard the ship had hardened to a waxy residue the texture of refrigerated peanut butter, reducing the risk of a leak but making it nearly impossible to burn off. The latest plan calls for a helicopter to hook tow-lines to the 401ft bow section and have m. tug Sea Victory pull it out to sea. Coast Guard gunners will open fire on the wreck to ensure rapid sinking. Coast Guard Capt. Mike Hall said the plan was discussed with White House officials today. The fate of the smaller, stern section has not been determined. Strong winds and brutal surf continued to hamper the salvage and clean-up operation. Heavy swells closed some beaches yesterday and today and kept clean-up crews away. The impact on the environment and the local economy has been heavy. The spill has forced the shutdown of commercial oyster harvesting and recreational shell-fishing in the region. The commercial crab season is nearly over, and ocean traps examined so far have shown no evidence of oil contamination. A Coast Guard board of inquiry will begin meeting tomorrow to try to determine why the vessel ran aground as she headed into Coos Bay to load wood-chips.18 February 1999 - A report from North Bend, Oregon, dated 17 February states: At 18.00 today the Unified Command ordered a halt to the day's initial attempt to pull the bow section of m. wood chip carrier, New Carissa off the beach and announced plans to offload some of the remaining oil while waiting for more favourable conditions. The Unified Command said m. tug, Sea Victory, cannot get close enough to the vessel to connect the tow cable needed to begin the multi-day tow 248 miles out to sea. Both, Sea Victory and m. oil-pollution recovery vessel Oregon Responder will return to Coos Bay. Unified Command continues to believe towing of the bow section represents the best long-term environmental and safety option, but current weather conditions require an interim approach. "The weather tomorrow will likely push the 440ft bow section higher on the beach", said Bill Milwee, an international salvage expert with Unified Command. "During the next one to two days, as we await more favourable towing weather, we will off-load as much oil from the bow section as is practical. This will be a difficult but necessary effort during the interim." Worsening weather is expected tomorrow with gale force winds forecast to 45 knots. While waiting for towing conditions to improve, officials will secure a large floating rope for a new hook-up effort. Owing to the new conditions, the US Coast Guard Strike Team has been activated to provide additional operational support to the Unified Command.19 February 1999 - A press report, dated 18 February, states: The latest plan to salvage the wreckage of m. wood-chip carrier New Carissa, lying on the beach at Coos Bay, calls for pumping some of the remaining oil off the bow section of the vessel and into tanks on the beach before trying to pull it out to sea. Estimates say there could be as many as 130,000 gallons of the heavy bunker oil on the vessel. The weather is not expected to improve for two days and at that time the Coast Guard hopes to put the tow line on the wreckage to pull it out to sea. It appears the best high tides and weather will be on Sunday (21 February) or Monday (22 February).20 February 1999 - A press report from Coos Bay, Oregon, states: Taking advantage of a break in the weather, Coast Guard crews rigged pumps and hoses today to begin moving the fuel oil from m. wood-chip carrier New Carissa to portable tanks on shore. Crews planned to cut a hole in the side of the 420ft bow section and pump as many as 135,000 gallons that remained on board after she was set on fire last week. They hoped to begin pumping late today, finish Sunday and then tow the bow more than 200 miles out to sea and sink her with gunfire. After another winter storm hit yesterday, crews gave up efforts to tow the bow off the beach and turned to pumping off the oil. Sunny skies and diminishing seas today made the work a little easier. The Coast Guard's Pacific Strike Team set up a special auger pump on board and two hydraulic booster pumps on the beach. The oil will be pumped through 500ft to 700ft of hose to 22,000-gallon steel tanks on shore. When the tanks are filled, the oil will be transferred into smaller plastic tanks and flown by helicopter to a staging area, then trucked away for disposal. Four oyster farms inside Coos Bay remained shut down from harvest due to small amounts of oil entering the bay. The smaller, 220ft stern section of the vessel is mired in deep sand and cannot be refloated. Efforts to haul it ashore and remove it will not begin until after the snowy plover's nesting season, which begins 15 March. The section of vessel is not believed to contain any fuel.21 February 1999 - The Unified Command announced that the 28-person US Coast Guard National Strike Force and Smit Americas team have begun pumping the remaining estimated 135,000 gallons of oil off m. wood-chip carrier New Carissa. "The crew has successfully cut a hole into the vessel and hooked up the pumps, and we now have started pumping oil off the vessel into the tanks placed behind the dunes", said Commander Paul Jewell of the US Coast Guard and deputy incident commander for the New Carissa Unified Command. Earlier today, Jewell announced that the team would wait until the tide began going out to perform the last steps, including putting the hose in the hole of the bow. "Because our crew had to pull the hose through the water to the vessel, we had to wait until the tide was going out and the current was not as strong", said Jewell. The team will use hydraulic pumps to move the oil from the bow of the vessel into eight 22,000-gallon tanks that will be placed behind the dunes about 500 yards to 700 yards from the vessel. Once the pumping is complete, Unified Command will implement plans to remove the oil for disposal. Removal and disposal plans are not yet confirmed. When the pumping is complete, final preparations will begin to tow the bow out to sea and sink it. The tow line is expected to arrive sometime tomorrow. It is coming from The Netherlands and is 750m long, 10in in diameter, has a 380-ton breaking point and is made of synthetic fibre.22 February 1999 - Stress fractures were today growing along the hull of grounded m. wood-chip carrier New Carissa, and salvage crews were gearing up to tow the vessel into deep water to sink her, regardless of how much oil is left on board. Plans originally called for moving the broken vessel off the beach today but the arrival of a special cable needed to haul her away was delayed, pushing the operation back to at least tomorrow. With offshore storms approaching and the hull cracking under the strong seas, crews raced to pump off as much oil as they could from the 440ft bow section. "We are definitely going to try to get the vessel off, even if there is some oil still on", said Mike Szerlog, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's on-scene representative. Strong surf and heavy winds have hampered rescuers throughout the salvage effort, but they continued transferring the oil yesterday evening and would "pump all night if need be", said John Zapell, spokesman for the joint information centre organised by federal and state agencies. An estimated 100,000 gallons has been pumped off the vessel into containers on shore. Because it was a mixture of oil and water, crews could not immediately determine how many of the estimated 135,000 gallons of fuel oil remained on board. Since the vessel drifted aground 4 February, at least 70,000 gallons have leaked into the ocean along one of the most environmentally sensitive beaches in the state. Biologists have found oil coating 27 of the 97 snowy plovers which have been counted in Oregon. The bird is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A total of 70 dead birds have been found, 32 of them oiled. Another 50 birds were in rehabilitation yesterday. Weather will be a factor in the decision to begin towing, but rough seas may actually lend salvage crews a hand by rocking the vessel free.23 February 1999 - Rough weather forced Coast Guard crews to stop pumping oil from the grounded m. wood chip carrier New Carissa again, shifting efforts today to preparing to tow the broken bow section out to sea. An 825-yard cable being flown in from The Netherlands was expected to arrive today, allowing a tug to take another try at pulling the bow from the beach when the weather allows. A team was flown by helicopter to the vessel today to assess the extent of fractures that have been growing in the bow section over the course of 19 days grounded in the pounding surf.24 February 1999 - A Coast Guard inquiry into the grounding of m. wood chip carrier New Carissa opened today, centring on the master's decision to ride out a storm close to shore despite powerful swells and fierce winds. The first witness, a maritime expert, appeared to back the master testifying that anchoring just offshore in shallow water is accepted industry practice. "Shallower water is more favourable", said John Betz, a former oil tanker captain for Chevron. "Everybody wants to get into shallower water if they can." Betz said anchoring in shallow water helps reduce the stress on the anchor chain and allows the vessel to drift in a tighter circle. He noted, however, that the master must keep monitoring navigational systems to make sure the anchor does not start dragging along the sea bottom. That is apparently what happened 4 February, when the vessel ran aground on a beach north of Coos Bay while her crew was waiting for a maritime pilot stranded ashore by stormy weather. Under cross-examination, Betz pointed out that anchoring is not an exact science and it is largely the master's judgement call. State and federal officials launched the inquiry, in part, to determine whether New Carissa broke state law when she anchored so close to the beach without having a local maritime pilot on board. Depending on the findings, civil claims or criminal charges could be levied against the ship's operator and officers. Under state law, penalties for unlawfully piloting a vessel too near the Oregon shore include as much as a $50,000 fine and six months in jail. Meanwhile today, fog and howling winds thwarted attempts to rig the broken bow of the grounded vessel with a 10in-thick, 1,100 yard-long cable that will be used to tow her out to sea. If the cable can be rigged during daylight hours tomorrow, plans call for m. tug Sea Victory to make the first attempt to pull the charred bow of New Carissa and the thick oil remaining inside off the beach tomorrow evening at high tide.25 February 1999 - With each passing day diminishing chances of hauling the broken bow of m. wood chip carrier New Carissa off the beach, crews struggled today against gale-force winds and heavy seas to rig a tow cable. Each tide sees the vessel's broken bow section move closer to the stern section in the pounding surf. If the bow gets too close, it will be impossible to get a straight pull on the 1,100-yard tow cable without it rubbing against the stern, which would likely break the line. If the bow cannot be pulled off the beach and towed out to sea to be sunk, the back-up plan calls for using bulldozers to pull the bow farther up on the beach. A contractor would come in with equipment to heat the thick fuel oil residue left on board and pump it into tanks on shore. Meanwhile, Coast Guard Cmdr Paul Jewell and another Coast Guardsman were to be airlifted to the stern section of the vessel with a US Justice Department search warrant. They planned to seize the global positioning system and any other navigational equipment that could describe the movements of the vessel when she ran aground. In Portland, the Coast Guard held an inquiry into the vessel's grounding. Lawyers for the ship's owners argued against allowing information from the global positioning system, if it is found, to be allowed into evidence. They said the warrant to search the stern was issued by the US Justice Department and has no standing in the hearing. Crew members could begin taking the stand late today.25 February 1999 - A report from Coos Bay states: m. wood chip carrier New Carissa: Taking advantage of a break in the weather, crews quickly mobilised early today to begin connecting a 1,000m, 4.6-tons floating towline to the bow of the New Carissa and m. tug Sea Victory. Sea Victory and oil skimmer Oregon Responder stayed at sea throughout last night. Early today a salvage crew was airlifted onto the bow to make final preparations for towing to sea. A four-person crew from the salvage company Smit Americas Inc. will stay on board the bow for a portion of the tow to manage the on-board pumps.25 February 1999 - The broken bow of m. wood-chip carrier New Carissa was slowly dragged through the surf toward open water today on its way to a burial in the deep Pacific. For the first time since the vessel ran aground in a storm three weeks ago, rough weather actually helped salvage crews, helping to dislodge the rusty, charred front portion of the vessel from the sand. M. tug Sea Victory put 106 tons of pulling power on a 1,100-yard towline connected to the 420ft-long bow section, making progress so slowly it was barely perceptible to the human eye. "This is not a spectacular thing", said Bill Milwee, salvage consultant for the vessel's Japanese owners. He figured the section moved 5ft over a half-hour, and it was moved only about 40ft before the morning high tide dropped. The bow section still must be dragged over two sandbars. It will take two to three days for the hulk to be towed far enough so it can be sunk in 9,000ft of water. The stern section remains mired deeply in the sand and is considered free of oil. Salvagers have said they may leave it there.2 March 1999 - A tug pulled a broken-off bow section of m. wood-chip carrier New Carissa through a sandbar today, covering 550ft and marking the biggest stride yet in the effort to tow it out to sea. That brings to more than 650ft the distance that the section has been moved since crews began trying to wrench it free Friday (26 February). It is now more than halfway across the distance it needs to go to clear two sandbars. No new oil has been seen in the water since the towing began, said Mike Szerlog of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.2 March 1999 - The broken bow of m. wood chip carrier New Carissa was headed to a watery grave after a powerful tug freed it from an Oregon beach following four days of pulling, officials said today. The 440ft hull section of New Carissa came free late yesterday and was moving west at about 4 mph, officials said. At that pace it will take the vessel about four days to reach its burial site 248 miles from the coast, where a Navy gunboat will open fire and scuttle it. "We haven't seen any problems yet", said Randy Henry of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Henry said there were no reports of any oil leaks from the hull, which had an estimated 135,000 gallons of solidified fuel oil on board, but just in case, the vessel was followed by the oil skimmer Oregon Responder. Commercial oyster beds in Coos Bay remain closed and recreational shellfish gathering is banned in two counties.3 March 1999 - The bow section of m. wood chip carrier New Carissa was drifting back towards the Oregon coast early today after a storm ripped it free from m. tug Sea Victory which was towing it out to sea for burial. Bad weather snapped the heavy cable between the tug and tow. The Sea Victory had made it 50 miles to sea when the towline broke in yesterday evening's storm. Pushed by 60mph to 70mph winds and 30ft swells, the bow drifted to the north-east and was within 30 miles of Florence by midnight. By early today, it was expected to be within a few miles of Newport, about 100 miles south-west of Portland. Clean-up crews in Newport were preparing for a grounding which could spill the 130,000 gallons of thick, gooey fuel oil still on board the broken bow. Officials had feared that the storm might sink the bow, but they felt it would not matter so long as it was at least 50 miles offshore and beyond the edge of the environmentally sensitive continental shelf.3 March 1999 - Following received from US Coast Guard at 12.00, PST, today: Members of the Unified Command and marine architects are assessing the integrity of the 440ft bow section of m. wood chip carrier New Carissa after it ran aground on a sand bar at 07.30. This is near Patterson Beach State Park, at the south entrance to Alsea Bay, near Waldport, Oregon. From the assessment the United Command will make a decision about how to retrieve the towline and what other steps are necessary to protect the safety of the public and the environment. Some tar balls from New Carissa, spotted north of the vessel and inside the mouth of Alsea Bay, estimated to be from dime to fist size, have been reported. Clean-up crews are currently on scene with additional support on the way. Personnel and equipment were staged yesterday night in Newport, Oregon, in readiness for the potential of New Carissa coming aground again along the coastline. This enabled clean-up crews to quickly respond to any environmental threat. The US Coast Guard Pacific Strike Team has been re-mobilised to assist the Department of Environmental Quality, the US Coast Guard and ship representatives already on site. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration will be keeping the United Command updated on weather conditions. Federal and state wildlife agencies will be assessing environmentally sensitive areas and marine mammal habitats along the coast and bay waters. A second tug, m. tug Natoma, left Coos Bay this morning and will arrive on scene this afternoon to assist in recapturing and re-attaching the towline to m. tug Sea Victory. That tug stayed with the bow section throughout the night and remains in sight. The US Coast Guard airlifted personnel and fuel to operate pumps and other equipment on New Carissa.4 March 1999 - The bow section of m. wood chip carrier New Carissa ran aground for a second time yesterday after a storm ripped the wreck free from the tug that was towing it out to sea for sinking. "It's back on the beach", said Coast Guard Lt jg Mathew Brewer. "We're going to go out and try to reconnect with her and take her back out before it hardens back in." The broken-off bow of the vessel was mired in the sand several hundred yards off a rocky stretch of coast between Waldport and Yachats. Within hours of the grounding, sticky tar balls began showing up on the beach, apparently from the vessel's tanks, which are still holding up to 130,000 gallons of heavy bunker fuel. Booms were being set up at nearby Alsea Bay to protect the environmentally fragile estuary where the Alsea River flows into the ocean. Huge storm swells were delaying efforts to bring in another tug and there was no estimate when another salvage operation might take place. Bill Milwee, salvage consultant to the vessel's owners, said $10 million had been spent to date on the operation, with much more to come. The cost is being borne by the vessel's insurer. The Oregon Division of State Lands will probably lead an environmental assessment of options for what to do with the 220ft section still stuck on the beach near Coos Bay.5 March 1999 - Hundreds of oily birds showed up yesterday along the shoreline near Waldeport as crews prepared to tow the beached, broken bow of m. wood-chip carrier New Carissa back out into deep water. "We've got a lot more oil out there than we thought we had", Coast Guard Capt. Mike Hall said after surveying the wrecked bow, which still holds up to 130,000 gallons of fuel. Thick, gooey tar balls dotted the beach for miles. A petroleum sheen was tracked into nearby Alsea Bay, famous for its salmon and crabs and home to bald eagles, peregrine falcons and marbled murrelets. Federal wildlife officials who checked 11 miles around the wreck found 278 oiled shorebirds. Seven were dead. Roy Lowe, a biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, said half of all the sanderling flocks seen skittering through the surf were splotched with oil. Crews observed some clean birds, including a bald eagle, ingesting the oil by feasting on the carcasses of dead birds. By yesterday afternoon, 185 people with rain slickers, shovels and plastic bags scoured the beach to pick up the pollution and lay out absorbent pom-poms near the surf line. State agriculture officials warned against harvesting mussels or clams along a seven-mile stretch of beach surrounding Alsea Bay because of possible contamination. Bait shrimp fishing was closed to keep vessels out of the area. Oil has been found on beaches as far as 100 miles north, but officials were testing to determine whether it came from the New Carissa.

13 February 1999 - Panama

An oil spill that is causing growing environmental damage in Panamanian waters may have been caused by negligence, according to an emergency services chief. Some 42,000 gallons of light bunker oil was released after workers at Colon-based Atlantic Pacific overfilled a tank, said fire service commander Dario Hudson. It was the second serious spill from the company's facilities within 18 months. Concern has further been raised because the incident happened at dawn on Saturday (6 February) but was only made public the following Monday. Panamanian press reports said the company declined comment on the incident. Bunker oil spread into the Brazos Brooks River and streams and channels that empty into Manzanillo Bay via the French Canal, a route leading to the Gatun Locks. Panama Caoal shipping was unaffected. Bolivar Zambrano, regional director of the National Environment Authority, reported that fish were dying and flora suffering. He said the company was placing containment barriers to prevent the spread of pollution.

15 February 1999 - New Haven, Connecticut, USA

A press release, dated 10 February, issued by US Coast Guard Boston, states: Coast Guard personnel from Group and Marine Safety Office Long Island Sound responded with representatives from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the local fire department to a report of approximately 200 gallons of gasoline in the water around a barge at the Getty Terminal in New Haven Harbour at 14.00, today. The 323ft tank barge Noelle Cutler (1,844 gt, built 1957, D274301), owned by Poling and Cutler Marine Transportation Company, was unloading gasoline at the terminal when crewmembers observed gasoline around the vessel. The gasoline is contained by a boom, which is required to be in place as a precautionary measure around all vessels loading or unloading petroleum products in Connecticut. The cargo is being pumped off the barge to the shore facility. Prior to loading any cargo, the barge will be inspected by the Coast Guard to determine the cause of the incident and to ensure that all repairs are completed satisfactorily.

17 February 1999 - Genoa

Following received from "Fairplay" dated 16 February: Stelios Haji Ioannou, the owner of the Cyprus-flagged Stelmar's m. tanker Haven, which exploded in Genoa's Multedo Bay in April 1991 and sank after spilling about 50,000 tons of crude oil, says he refuses to accept the judge assigned to the appeal trial dealing with the case. The Greek shipowner states that Judge Adriano Sansa, who was mayor of Genoa at the time of the disaster, would not be impartial. To support his request, Ioannou commissioned a consultant to poll 600 Genoese inhabitants. Of those interviewed, 47 per cent responded that Sansa is a fair judge while 29 per cent said he would not be impartial and should not chair the trial. The remaining 24 per cent did not know.

19 February 1999 - Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

Following information received from US Coastguard, dated 16 February: spillage into Tennessee River from ruptured pipeline on 10 February: the captain of the Port (COTP) of Paducah established a safety zone, which extended for 20 miles. A boom was placed out to contain the spill and an over-flight was conducted in the morning to assess the situation. Portions of the river were closed during clean-up operations. Clean-up continues and the river was reopened to all traffic on 13 February.

19 February 1999 - Teeside, UK

Hydrochloric acid has polluted 70,000m2 of Seal Sands in Teesside, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on the north bank of the River Tees. The company responsible for the leak, Tioxide Europe, raised the alarm on Wednesday (17 February) evening, but details only emerged today. The area was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest earlier this year. It appears a large but unspecified amount of acid leaked from a pipe into a stone drain and then on to the marshland. Environmental protection officers are working to minimise the effect of the leak by diluting the area with sea water. Steve Harding of the Environment Agency said: "We haven't found any evidence of dead animals or fish on the site yet, but it's very marshy land and it's very difficult to get into all the parts." It is feared that birds that come to the marshes to feed could have been affected by eating contaminated worms. Tioxide Europe spokesman Wayne Barnacle said the company was working hard to combat its effects. He said: "We are attempting to pump out some of the acidic water into the sea where it can be diluted and prevent any further environmental damage."20 February 1999 - The extent of damage caused by a chemical leak at an important wildlife site could take months to assess, a wildlife group has warned. A clean-up operation is continuing on Teesside after a large area of marshland near Seal Sands was contaminated by a spillage of hydrochloric acid from a chemical plant. A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said finding out what the effects had been would be a "long-term process". It is feared that birds that come to the marshes to feed could have been affected by eating contaminated worms. RSPB spokesman David Hirst said the exact damage caused by the acid on vegetation and invertebrates on the marsh was difficult to judge. Mr Hirst continued: "Finding out exactly what damage this leak has caused will be a very long-term process over a period of months, but it is vital that the area is returned to its previous state". A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said exact details of how and when the leak occurred would be investigated next week. A spokesman for Tioxide Europe said: "Acidity levels are decreasing and the pH level has risen from two to three overnight which is a considerable improvement. "More samples will be taken and tests carried out on sediment from the area as the pumping operation continues".

23 March 1999 - Freeport, Texas, USA

Following received from Coast Guard New Orleans, dated 20 March: approximately 100 gallons of fuel oil was spilled into the harbour at Freeport, Texas, this afternoon during refuelling operations between Mexican mv Nauticas Mexico (12,095 gt, built 1981) and a fuel barge. At about 13.30 Coast Guard personnel received a call that while refuelling Nauticas Mexico an accident occurred resulting in about 100 gallons of fuel oil being spilled. Personnel from Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit, Galveston, Texas, and Coast Guard Station Freeport are responding to the spill along with the Freeport Hazardous Materials Team, Freeport Fire Department and Garner Environmental Services.23 March 1999 - Following received from Marine Safety Unit, Galveston, timed 23.45, UTC, 22 March: spill occurred as a result of overflow from bunker tanks of mv Nauticas Mexico while being refuelled by tank barge Buffalo 84. Clean-up completed.

28 March 1999 - Halland, Sweden

Yesterday, an area of oil was noted by the Coast Guard near the coast of Halland - but no identification of vessel. Coast Guard units were called in and started to collect the dirty oil. Today, 12m2 of heavy fuel oil was collected and cleaning as good as possible. Surface units checked the area - confirming at the moment no more to collect as some floating below surface, and only light film of oil on surface.

29 March 1999 - River Wey, Hampshire, UK

A press report, dated 28 March, states: An investigation is under way after thousands of fish were killed by ammonia, along a three-mile stretch of the River Wey. The Environment Agency, which has launched an investigation, says the fish population of the river between Alton and Bentley has been "completely devastated". Environment Agency officials were called to the scene yesterday after a local resident noticed foam and a strong smell. A clean-up operation was under way today and the agency's spokesman said: "The pollution has affected a three-mile stretch of the River Wey between Alton and Bentley killing thousands of brown trout, chubb, roach, dace and perch. He said: "Samples taken by the agency have yet to confirm the pollutant, but initial investigations point to ammonia as the cause." The agency says it has traced the source and is gathering evidence with a view to taking legal action. It is also carrying out a full biological impact survey. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Foods has advised farmers not to abstract water from the river but South East Water says there is no risk to the public drinking water supply.

31 March 1999 - Pasir Gudang, Malaysia

A press report, dated 31 March, Johor Baru, states: The Johor Department of Environment together with the Police Aerial Unit are using a helicopter to conduct aerial surveillance to monitor progress made to contain the recent oil spill off Pasir Gudang. The department's director Tengku Bakri Shah Tengku Johan said the aerial surveillance which began yesterday would continue until the situation was under control. "The unit reports seeing patches of black oil around the mangrove areas and a thin oil slick in the open sea which is considered not harmful as it would evaporate under the sun. "The air surveillance will continue until we are satisfied the cleaning process is completed," he said in an interview. When asked to comment on the call made by Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman for the department to press charges against Malaysia Shipyard and Engineering Sdn Bhd and its ship repair contractor for failing to contain the oil spill, he said it would have to wait. "The department will have to ascertain the volume of damage before pressing charges against the companies," he said. The oil spill occurred on Thursday (25 March) afternoon when a worker attached to a vessel repairing contractor company accidentally released the oil valve of a vessel undergoing repairs at one of the MSE dry-docks causing about 50 tonnes of black oil to escape. But the authorities only came to know about the incident after fishermen in the area raised the matter.

5 April 1999 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

A press report, dated 1 April, states: Human waste that poured from burst sewage pipes and the threat of further pollution from expected heavy rains will close Rio's famed southern beaches for Easter weekend, a state agency said today. The State Foundation on the Environment warned that visitors should not swim in the water or walk on the sand at the normally crowded beach spots until 24 hours after the rains. But an environmental expert recommended staying away from the water for at least 48 hours. "When it rains, the force of the rain directs all street rubbish and the runoff from the sewage waste toward the beach," said Carmen Lucariny, an official with Rio's environmental agency. "There is a constant release of waste into river waterways," she said. The pipes were temporarily fixed after bursting about 990ft from the beach line, spilling sewage on to the crowded seashore. Permanent repairs for the underwater system will require sealing off the area from 12 to 17 April. Waste normally dumped about seven miles from the Atlantic shores will be spilled directly into the waters of the popular beaches, including Ipanema and Copacabana, during the repair work. According to Environment Secretary Andre Correia, 70 of the 90 pipes in the sewage system need to be replaced at a cost of nearly $20 million. The pipes are more than 20 years old.

7 April 1999 - Aledo, Texas, USA

A press report, dated 6 April, states: Gasoline is still trickling from a gash in an Arco gasoline pipeline punctured by a construction crew with a backhoe west of Fort Worth. An estimated 22,000 gallons of unleaded fuel spewed from the line near Aledo. Ten families were evacuated and they may have to spend a second night in a hotel while specialised equipment arrives to completely cap the leak.

7 April 1999 - Zhuhai waters near Hong Kong

Following received from "Fairplay", dated 6 April: Reports have emerged from China that a Cosco-owned bulker was in collision with a government-owned tanker in Zhuhai waters near Hong Kong on 24 March, resulting in a ten-ton fuel oil spill. M. ore carrier Dong Hai (17,402 gt, built 1965) was reported to have hit m. tanker Min Ran Gong 7 (17,487 gt, built 1970) which was loaded with 1,000 tons of fuel oil, leading to the spill. Local sources state that the accident has led to a "serious pollution problem" resulting in "tons of dead fish". The accident is under investigation by Chinese authorities.10 April 1999 - A slick has spread over more than 120 sq. miles of the South China Sea after a tanker (Min Ran Gong) collided with a cargo ship, (m. ore carrier Dong Hai) spilling 150 tonnes of fuel oil, a local official said today. The tanker had collided with a 3,000-tonne cargo off Zhuhai in the southern province of Guangdong, said the official of the Zhuhai Environmental Protection Bureau. He said both vessels were from China and that the tanker had been fully loaded, while the cargo ship was nearly empty when the collision happened on 24 March. "Only 150 tonnes of fuel oil was leaked, because we took immediate measures to transfer the rest of the fuel oil to other ships", he said. "We have almost controlled the pollution", the official said. "We are trying all means to the reduce the losses to the minimum level." The official Xinhua News Agency reported that more than 640 acres of fish farms had been polluted, causing direct economic losses of one million yuan ($120,000).

8 April 1999 - Bay Roberts, Newfoundland, Canada

A press report, dated 7 April, St John's, Newfoundland, states: the owner of Faroe Islands m. stern trawler Hogifossur (2,273 gt, built 1984) has been fined $10,000 after pleading guilty in provincial court to spilling as much as 100l of oil. The owner of Hogifossur was charged under the Canadian Shipping Act last fall, following a spill that occurred during refuelling in Bay Roberts, Newfoundland. The investigation determined that the operator of the vessel did not take many of the basic precautions to prevent a spill. There were no reports of oiled birds resulting from the Hogifossur's spill, likely because it was close to shore.

13 April 1999 - Beaches, Sao Paulo State, Brazil

At about 18.00, local time, 13 April, there was a leakage of petroleum from Almirante Barroso terminal, Sa¬o Sebastia¬o port, which contaminated six beaches of the north coast of the state of Sa¬o Paulo. The quantity is unknown and probable cause was due to operations of the terminal's staff.

17 April 1999 - Bremerton, Washington, USA

A press report, dated 16 April, states: the Cascade Natural Gas distribution pipeline that was hit earlier in the day by a contractor operating a backhoe was repaired by a Company crew at 14.00 hrs. Employees reduced the pressure in the pipeline so they could make repairs without disrupting service to area residents and businesses. The accident occurred at about 08.30, near the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton.

20 April 1999 - Salvador, Brazil

M. tanker Bage (53,114 gt, built 1985): during oil discharge at Temadre Terminal at 19.45, 16 April, three of vessel's aft mooring lines were broken and one 8in. discharge line was disconnected, causing oil spillage in the sea. The terminal official information states that only 500l of oil went to sea but local information states that this quantity should reach 65,000l. It is estimated that 135 small boats - fishing and transport boats - had their paint damaged. An extensive area of the coast was affected by the oil but immediate steps were taken to clean the area. The port authority is carrying out an inquiry.

21 April 1999 - Narsingdi, Bangladesh

At least 500 people have fallen ill after inhaling ammonia leaking from a fertiliser factory in Bangladesh's Narsingdi district, police and officials said today. They said the gas, which had been leaking from Ghorashal Fertilizer Complex at Palash since late March, also killed nearly 1,500 fowl and 20 head of cattle, along with fish in nearby ponds and crops in the fields. "The GFC managed by state-owned Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation released excess ammonia into its immediate neighbourhood", police superintendent Mohammed Mokhlesur Rahman said. A government official at Palash, 100km north-east of Dhaka, said many villagers had fled. "We have treated several people with lung and breathing problems along with coughing and sneezing", said a doctor at Narsingdi Government Hospital. "Fifty such patients are still with us", the doctor said, adding that the cases had started coming in over the past 15 days. M.A. Samad, director of production and research of BCIC, blamed a long-running drought for the "excessive evaporation of ammonia from its treatment unit". He said the leakage had begun in the second half of March but did not say whether it had been plugged. "The drought and excessive environmental heat impaired the capacity of the treatment plant from where the ammonia evaporated and caused pollution", Samad said. "The authorities are assessing the damages", he said, adding that affected villagers would be compensated. Samad said the amount of compensation was still under consideration.

22 April 1999 - Eastern Venezuela

A report, dated 21 April, Caracas, states: Venezuela shut 278,000 barrels per day of oil and 400 million ft3 of natural gas production after a gas pipeline in Eastern Venezuela exploded killing one worker yesterday, state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) said today. In a press statement, the company said it hoped to replace the lost production in approximately 15 days. The explosion occurred at 12.45, local time, yesterday near Punta de Mata, 350km east of Caracas, during maintenance work on the cathode protection system of a major gas pipeline. One worker was killed and six injured, according to the statement. Venezuela is already shutting oil production as part of an orchestrated attempt by the big petroleum exporters to raise prices. A PDVSA spokeswoman said she did not know if there were plans to lift output in other areas to compensate while the blast was being investigated.

4 May 1999 - south-east Nigeria

US-based Mobil Corporation's Nigerian oil-producing unit said today it has spent over $52 million to cover costs stemming from oil spills caused by a pipeline rupture on the country's south-east coast last year. Randy Broiles, Mobil's executive director for exploration and production, told a news conference in Lagos the expenditure comprised 2.1 billion naira ($22.4 million) in compensation claims and 2.8 billion naira ($30 million) in repairs and legal fees. "It's been a costly exercise for our company", Broiles said of damage control efforts after a failed pipeline spilled about 40,000 barrels. The oil flowed westwards, affecting beaches and communities along Nigeria's coastline in January 1998. Industry experts had rated the spill the worst in the west African country in two decades. But Mobil said studies of the affected area showed no lasting impact from the spill. "Over one million claims were made. We've been involved in the claims process for over 15 months", Broiles said. He said payments were made to individuals, local and state governments in Nigeria's affected coastal areas. Despite the payments, several communities in the oil-producing region, where locals feel cheated out of the oil wealth produced on their land by government and oil firms, are still demanding spill compensation from Mobil. Mobil said that when it has not paid compensation it was because there was no evidence of impact from the spill.

13 May 1999 - Kansas, USA

A press report, dated 11 May, Atchison, Kansas, states: with diesel fuel from a broken pipeline spreading 40 miles down the Missouri River, platoons of workers today manned equipment along a small creek to clean up a huge spill in north-east Kansas. More than 200,000 gallons of fuel spewed from the pipeline, which fractured for unknown reasons, said Mike Hurney, an Overland Park-based operations director for Williams Pipe Line Co. Federal and state experts flocked to the scene. They reported no major loss of wildlife or threat to city water supplies, and said the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based company was doing what was necessary to address the spill. Area water utilities that draw from the Missouri River said the spill posed no health hazards for their customers, but some took special precautions to deal with possible contamination. Thirty employees of Williams were overseeing the clean-up along Independence Creek, below the Missouri River bluffs. Private contractors equipped with pumps sent an additional 20 workers, with 30 to 40 more workers expected. Trucks lined a road along the Missouri River, waiting to pick up fuel and polluted water. "As far as we know at this time, things are under control", said Don Hamera, a member of the Environmental Protection Agency's emergency response team in Kansas City. The break occurred yesterday morning, north of Atchison, where the pipeline crosses Independence Creek, he said. A control centre in Tulsa registered an abnormal pressure reading just before noon yesterday and shot down the 16in. diameter line within several minutes, he said. The fuel flowed into Independence Creek and travelled about five miles to the Missouri River. Workers located the break about 18.00, after a fisherman reported a possible break by telephone. Hurney said checks by air today found a sheen of petroleum down the Missouri all the way to Interstate 435 near the Wyandotte-Leavenworth county line. The total spill was estimated at 206,000 gallons to 231,000 gallons, he said. The EPA was notified about 18.00, yesterday, and an emergency response team member spent last night there. The clean-up will take several days and perhaps a week, the agency said. John George, conservation officer for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, also arrived at the scene last night. Several distressed fish found along the creek bank were returned to the water, he said. Several dead birds were reported, he said. But today, George said, no dead fish or birds were observed. George said workers were at the scene by 21.30 yesterday, working with the aid of portable lights. Some workers were there all night, and the clean-up was scheduled to extend all night tonight. Four clean-up locations were set up along the creek. At one of them today, two flexible booms were stretched across the water, trapping the spilled fuel and pushing it toward shore. Special machinery vacuumed the fuel, which was piped into tank trucks. The Office of Pipeline Safety, part of the US Department of Transportation, will conduct an investigation of the break, Swan said. The pipeline, which transports various petroleum products from El Dorado, Kansas, to Des Moines, Iowa, is one of a variety of lines the company operates. In response to the spill, the Board of Public Utilities in Kansas City, filled its reservoirs, then cut back intake from the Missouri River from the usual 25 million to 26 million gallons a day to about 10 million gallons, said Karen Ford, BPU spokeswoman. "The water coming into the plant had the faint smell of diesel", she said. "We are treating it with powdered activated carbon to counter the taste and odour of the fuel. We don't expect any health problems." On the Missouri side, officials in Kansas City said the spill would not affect the water supply because it is treated so thoroughly. Closer to the spill, the Leavenworth Water Department will use water from a plant that does not draw from the river.

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