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20 January 2005
Athos I (Cyprus)
Repairs to crude oil tanker Athos I continue. Vessel repairs expected to be completed 23 January. Next port currently unknown by local agents.
24 January 2005. Tsakos Shipping and Trading has paid US$90.3 million so far for cleaning up after crude oil tanker Athos I spilled 265,000 gal of crude oil into the Delaware river in November, the US Coast Guard said. US federal law sets a cap of US$45.5 million on how much companies must pay in damages relating to oil spills. The 26 November spill from Athos I disrupted ship traffic, killed 174 birds and fouled 57 mile of shoreline, the Coast Guard said in a statement. “They have definitely funded the cleanup far past what the cap requires,” said Coast Guard spokeswoman Kimberly Smith. The cleanup cost is expected to top US$100 million, she said. The Coast Guard has also identified two new possible causes for the oil spill. A steel anchor and a concrete slab were found in the seabed near where Athos I was ruptured. The anchor did not have traces of paint on it that investigators use to match it to the hull of the tanker, Ms Smith said. She said the slab did have paint traces on it that could have been left from the tanker. A metal pipe sticking up from the riverbed has also been identified as a possible cause.
26 January 2005. The owner and operator of crude oil tanker Athos I, which spewed an estimated 265,000 gal of oil into the Delaware river, have filed a petition in federal court seeking to thwart – or at least limit – any damage claims not related to oil pollution. The petition was filed on Friday (21 January) in US District Court in Philadelphia by Frescati Shipping Co. Ltd, the vessel’s owner, and Tsakos Shipping and Trading SA, the vessel’s operator. The action is one piece of a legal strategy to control expenses for a spill that has cost millions to cleanup. Citing 154-year-old maritime law, the petition asks a judge for “exoneration” from any liability unrelated to oil pollution, or at least a $5 million cap on total awards – the proposed value of the damaged tanker. The petition does not apply to property or environmental damage caused by the oil, which is covered by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. “This is pretty standard legal practice,” Tsakos spokesman Jim Lawrence said yesterday. “It’s designed to protect our interests and bring some order and, hopefully, some efficiency to the claims process.” Though the filing does not name any potential claimants, the petition, if granted, could include damages sought by Citgo Petroleum Corp. for loss of its oil cargo. The spill occurred on 26 November as the vessel was preparing to deliver nearly 14 million gallons of oil from Venezuela to Citgo’s asphalt refinery in West Deptford. Before reaching Citgo’s dock, the vessel struck an object sticking up from the river bottom in the federally maintained Mantua Creek anchorage. Oil gushed from a 6 ft long gash and a nearly 2 ft wide puncture in the hull. Coast Guard investigators last month announced the discovery of a large piece of cast-iron pump housing, which they believed had caused the spill. However, this month, divers hired by the vessel’s insurer, UK P&I Club, found two more suspects: a concrete slab and a large anchor, both on the river bottom in the anchorage. The Oil Pollution Act limits the vessel’s liability to about $45 million. Tsakos has spent twice that amount on the cleanup, but can recoup expenses above the limit from the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which is financed, in part, by a special industry tax. To do so, the company must prove that a third party was responsible for the spill. Maritime lawyer Edward R. Petkevis said Tsakos would have an interest in helping Coast Guard investigators uncover the origin of whatever tore the vessel’s hull. “They are looking for any clues as to what caused this, because it’s going to be their position that they didn’t put that stuff on the bottom of the river,” Petkevis said.
2 February 2005. A Delaware river Oil Spill Joint Information Centre report, dated 2 February, states: Crude oil tanker Athos I: Latest Updates: Around 287 responders are working in the command centre and along the Delaware river. Some 106,350 gal of oil and oily liquid has been recovered. Some 11,108 ton of oily solids (cleanup materials and oil) have been collected. About 78 per cent of the heavily oiled areas, 54 per cent of the medium oiled areas, and 34 per cent of the lightly oiled areas have been grossly decontaminated. Nearly 38 facilities have been grossly decontaminated with seven currently being decontaminated. Experts report 366 birds have been released and 178 birds are reported deceased.
12 February 2005. A Delaware river Oil Spill Joint Information Centre report, dated 12 February, states: Crude oil tanker Athos I: Latest Updates: Around 431 responders are working in the command centre and along the Delaware river. Some 117,750 gal of oil and oily liquid has been recovered, 12,068 ton of oily solids (cleanup materials and oil) have been collected. About 78 per cent of the heavily oiled areas, 54 per cent of the medium oiled areas, and 34 per cent of the lightly oiled areas have been grossly decontaminated. Nearly 38 facilities have been grossly decontaminated with seven currently being decontaminated. Experts report 378 birds have been released and 181 birds are reported deceased. Oil recovery operations are continuing, weather permitting, throughout the winter months. Once the gross decontamination is completed, the next step will be a detailed assessment of the contaminated areas to finalize the cleanup plan. The Unified Command anticipates cleanup operations will continue through spring and into the summer. Investigation into the cause of the spill continues. Final results of the investigation are not expected to be released for several months.
16 February 2005. A Delaware river Oil Spill Joint Information Centre report, dated today, states. The claims process for uncompensated damages and removal costs related to the discharge of oil from crude oil tanker Athos I into the Delaware river near Paulsboro, NJ, on 26 November will now be handled by the National Pollution Funds Center. The managers of the vessel have already incurred cleanup costs over $100 million, well beyond their financial obligations under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. As a result, they have requested that third party claims now be referred to the funds centre for payment through the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which was established in 1990 to help facilitate cleanup activities and compensate for damages from oil spills. The vessel managers intend to continue funding the cleanup costs at this time:From the moment our vessel struck the uncharted object obstructing the anchorage we have been thrown into a ship owner’s worst nightmare. But throughout the dark night we have been assisted by some talented and hard working people.
The Captain of the Port and the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard, members of the State response forces, animal rescue specialists, our crew and our own contractor response team have laboured diligently since the incident occurred. We have met our responsibilities and more, and remain committed to supporting the enormous response efforts of so many people along such a beautiful waterway (Harry T. Hajimichael, General Manager, Tsakos Shipping and Trading SA, managers of Athos I).
With about 400 responders working in the command centre and along the affected shoreline, cleanup efforts are continuing. Approximately 117,750 gal of oil and oily liquid and 12,068 ton of oily solids have been recovered. Nearly 38 facilities along with 78 per cent of the heavily oiled areas, 54 per cent of the medium oiled areas, and 34 per cent of the lightly oiled areas have been decontaminated. Funds centre personnel will provide a claims presentation at 16:00, 22 February and again at 17:30 hours at the Independence Seaport Museum at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. Claimants are invited to attend either presentation. A claims workshop will also be held on the evening of 8 March. Claims that have been received so far will be denied by the responsible party and returned to two the claimants. Claimants should resubmit their claims to the National Pollution Funds Center. The centre will accept and adjudicate for uncompensated damages and removal costs resulting from the oil spill. Damages may include: damage to natural resources; damage to, or loss of, real or personal property; loss of subsistence use of a natural resource; loss of government revenue; loss of profits or earning capacity; and increased cost of public services.
22 January 2005
Chem.tank Kasco (18,812 gt, built 1981) leaked thousands of tonnes of diesel oil into a river in Vietnam’s rice basket Mekong Delta region but damage from the spill seemed limited after the remaining oil was transferred to other vessels, state media said today. Oil spilled from the vessel after it struck a pier at Cat Lai port on the Dong Nai river in southern Vietnam yesterday, causing disruption to river traffic. The vessel was carrying 30,000 ton of diesel oil for state-owned oil importer Saigon Petrol. Officials from Saigon Petrol said they had dispatched nine vessels to the area in an effort to contain the leak, the Saigon Giai Phong (Saigon Liberation) reported.
27 January 2005. Operations at Berth B of Saigon Petro Cat Lai terminal remain suspended today, following an oil leak last week. Operations at Berth A, however, are normal. Chem.tank Kasco leaked thousands of tonnes of diesel oil into the Dong Nai river in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region after it struck Pier B at Saigon Petro Cat Lai port on 21 January, causing disruption to river traffic. However, damage from the spill appears to be limited after the remaining oil was transferred to other vessels. The vessel was carrying 30,000 ton of diesel oil and is now being detained in port.
It is estimated that 400 ton of diesel oil leaked into the Dong Nai river. The authorities have successfully isolated the oil by “surround buoy” and then “sucked it out”. The vessel is now under temporary detention at the port. A representative of the P&I Club is discussing the matter with consignees and concerned parties.
23 January 2005
Selendang Ayu (Malaysia)
Bulk Selendang Ayu update at 13:00, 23 January. Dependent on weather, today’s response activities will include shoreline cleanup, water-quality sampling and wildlife recovery operations. Due to inclement weather, today’s air operations will be on hold until weather permits. As a result the shoreline assessment team will not be surveying any areas and there will be no lightering operations today. The protection group will continue to assess sites with protective booming and reconfigured the boom to increase effectiveness and remove boom that is ineffective or no longer needed. When weather permits the lightering team will resume pumping fuel oil from the Intermediate Fuel Oil (IFO) No. 4 port tank. Oil sampling using net tows are scheduled for the Unalaska transit lane, Iliuliuk Bay, and vessel anchoring areas in Broad and Captains Bay. Yesterday shoreline cleanup crews worked in Skan Bay, Portage Bay and Humpback Bay. They collected 1,593 bags of oily waste (27 cubic yards). To date, cleanup crews have collected 25,868 bags (431 cubic yards) of oily solid waste. The lightering team removed 17,216 gal of fuel oil from No. 4 port tank. The total volume lightered from the vessel to date is 76,937 gal of fuel oil/water and 2,647 gal of diesel for a total of 79,584 gal of fuel oil/water/diesel. Yesterday, the wildlife recovery team reported 72 additional bird carcasses and one dead oiled fox. Also, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) reported that a total of 967 dead birds have been recovered. To date, 29 live oiled birds have been captured and sent for rehabilitation, ten were later released, 17 died and two were euthanized. To date, five sea otter carcasses including two skeletons (cause of deaths unknown) have been recovered. Water-quality sampling continues in the Akutan and Unalaska areas and the team encountered one BB sized tar ball and three oil smears in Iliuliuk Bay. There has been no evidence of oil in Akutan Bay or east of Priest Rock, in outer Unalaska Bay or in Broad Bay since 18 January. A new Selendang Ayu Oil Spill Fisheries Water Quality Sampling Plan is being developed for the next phase of the program. To date, seafood inspections at the Dutch Harbour and Akutan processing plants have found all products free of oil contamination.
Inspections are conducted days and nights to check crab and pollock as they arrive at the docks. Vessels from the Opilio crab fishery in the Bering Sea continued their return to Dutch Harbour and Akutan to deliver their catch for processing. The Unified Command provided the crab fleet advisories to minimize contact with random tarballs that may be encountered during the vessels return to port. The crab fleet left Dutch Harbour and Akutan on 13 January, and the fleet has not reported any incidents of contamination thus far. The Unified Command has implemented an enhanced program to protect seafood quality. Shorelines were surveyed in Unalaska Bay and Captains Bay for tar balls and tar patties, vessels are using crab pots and tow nets to detect submerged oil, aerial surveys are checking for floating oil, and additional staff from the ADEC-Environmental Health seafood program are inspecting seafood at Dutch Harbour and Akutan processors. Predicted weather in Dutch Harbour for today is cloudy, temperatures low to upper 30 s, south-east winds building to 10-20 knots, and seas 4 ft. Tomorrow weather forecast calls for rain and snow, temperatures low to high 30 s, south-east winds 35-40 knots, seas at 6 ft.
25 January 2005. As of this report, the total volume of fuel initially on board bulk Selendang Ayu has been revised to 424,423 gal of IFO 380 and 21,058 gal of marine diesel oil. The midsection fuel tank ruptured when the vessel broke apart and released an estimated 40,131 gal of IFO 380. The status of the centreline IFO fuel tanks Nos 1 and 3, originally estimated to contain 176,473 and 104,000 gal,, respectively , remains unknown at this time. The actual amount of spilled fuel is also unknown. Dependent on weather, today’s response activities will include shoreline cleanup, water-quality sampling and wildlife recovery operations. The protection group will continue to assess sites with protective booming and reconfigure the boom to increase effectiveness and remove boom that is ineffective or no longer needed. Oil sampling using net tows is scheduled for Unalaska, Iliuliuk Bay, and vessel anchoring areas in Broad and Captains Bay. On Sunday the Unified Command signed a new Incident Action Plan for the period 24-31 January. Yesterday, shoreline cleanup crews worked in Skan Bay, Portage Bay, Humpback Bay, and collected 1,255 bags of oily waste (21 cubic yards). To date, cleanup crews have collected 28,675 bags (478 cubic yards) of oily solid waste. To date, the protection group has removed 5,000 ft of boom that is ineffective or no longer needed. They have also decontaminated 4,000 ft of boom. There is no change in the lightering status due to bad weather yesterday. On Saturday the lightering team removed 17,216 gal of IFO from No. 4 port tank. The total volume lightered from the vessel to date is 76,490 gal of IFO/water and 3,094 gal of diesel for a total of 79,584 gal of IFO/water/diesel. There was one dead oiled bird recovered on Sunday and another two yesterday. Today, the USFWS reported that a total of 970 dead birds have been recovered. Yesterday, water-quality sampling crew pulled 32 passive sampling crab pots and encountered one oiled snare near the surface adjacent to Little South America which is on the south end of Amaknak Island and one smear on a snare tow at 9-12 ft depth outside of Hog Island. The crew will continue tows in the Unalaska areas. A new Oil Spill Fisheries Water Quality Sampling Plan is being developed for the next phase of the program. To date, seafood inspections at the Dutch Harbour and Akutan processing plants have found all products free of oil contamination. Inspections are conducted throughout the day and night to check crab and pollock as they arrive at the docks. Predicted weather in Dutch Harbour today calls for cloudy skies, rain, breezy, temperatures low to upper 30 s, south-east winds building to 10-15 knots, and seas at 3 ft. Tomorrow’s weather will consist of rain and snow, temperatures low to high 30 s, south-east winds at 25 knots and seas at 4 ft.
30 January 2005. Bulk Selendang Ayu. Owing to inclement weather some of the response vessels have been recalled to Dutch Harbour and the ones, which are unable to make it, are pulling into other bays for shelter. The vessels are working on maintenance and repair during this time. Today’s response activities may be restricted to over flights, vessel lightering, water-quality sampling and wildlife recovery operations. Due to inclement weather shoreline cleanup operations may not be done today. Oil sampling using net tows is scheduled for today in Unalaska Bay. Snare-packs will be issued to the Pacific cod catcher boats in the area to detect oil contamination. Due to inclement weather no shoreline cleanup was done yesterday. To date, cleanup crews have collected 33,166 bags (552 cubic yards) of oily solid waste. Lightering operations were also suspended yesterday due to the weather. The lightering team removed 1,680 gal of IFO from the No. 4 port tank and sealed the tank Friday. The total volume lightered from the vessel to date is 102,196 gal of IFO/water and 3,094 gal of diesel/water for a total of 105,290 gal of IFO/water/diesel. A Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) is being obtained to investigate the sub-surface of the wreck and oiling. The USFWS reported crews removed 341 oiled and/or scavenged birds from Makushin Bay, 337, Pumicestone Bay, two, and Skan Bay, two, yesterday. To date a total of 1,473 dead birds have been recovered. Today’s weather in Dutch Harbour consists of mostly cloudy skies, rain with the possibility of snow, north-east winds at 25 knots, 5 ft seas and a high near 42°.
31 January 2005. Bulk Selendang Ayu. Following a weekend of inclement weather, some of the response vessels and crews that were recalled to Dutch Harbour and others that sought shelter in nearby bays are returning to work today. The vessels and crews that took shelter from the weekend weather in Anderson Bay remain there, but today’s response activities include over flights, vessel lightering, water-quality sampling and wildlife recovery operations. Shoreline cleanup operations were able to take place yesterday and crews are continuing their work today. Oil sampling using net tows is scheduled for today in Unalaska Bay. Snare-packs will be issued to the Pacific cod catcher boats in the area to detect oil contamination. Shoreline cleanup on yesterday yielded 325 bags (5 cubic yards) of oily solid waste. To date, cleanup crews have collected 33,491 bags (558 cubic yards) of oily solid waste. Lightering operations were suspended on Saturday due to the weather but resumed yesterday and continue today. The lightering team removed 5,872 gal of IFO that had been transferred from the No. 4 port tank that was sealed on Friday. The total volume lightered from the vessel to date is 108,068 gal of IFO/water and 3,094 gal of diesel/water for a total of 111,162 gal of IFO/water/diesel. A ROV to investigate the sub-surface of the wreck and oiling is expected to arrive in Dutch Harbour today. Today’s weather in Dutch Harbour consists of mostly cloudy skies, rain, north-east winds at 25 knots, five to 7 ft seas and a high near 41°.
3 February 2005. Today’s operations will include shoreline assessment and cleanup in Portage Bay, lightering, over flights, wildlife recovery and sub-surface wreck investigation. Crews continued to work in Portage Bay, determined as the heaviest oiled from assessments by over flight crews and shoreline cleanup assessment team surveys. Cleanup crews collected 1,356 bags of oily waste. To date the total amount of oily waste recovered from the bays is 36,951 bags. Shoreline cleanup and assessment teams while assessing shoreline in Kismaliuk yesterday reported several bands of possible recoverable oil. Crews removed 2,212 gal of miscellaneous oils from the wreck yesterday. To date, crews lightered 141,519 gal of fuel from the wreck, 129,996 of IFO and 11,523 of diesel. Today crews are skimming oil from the flooded engine-room. Assets and equipment that have been standing by to skim oil from near shore and open water areas are being demobilized as they are no longer needed. The ROV was deployed to the site of Selendang Ayu wreck last night onboard the fishing vessel Norseman. The ROV will be used today to conduct a sub-surface investigation of the wreck and possible oiling. USFWS crews recovered 15 oiled and/or scavenged birds yesterday. To date a total of 1,567 birds have been recovered. Today’s weather in Dutch Harbour consists of cloudy skies, south-east winds increasing to 20 knots by afternoon, seas at 3 ft, and an air temperature of 32°.
6 February 2005. Owing to inclement weather, yesterday’s operations were limited to one over flight of the bulk Selendang Ayu wreck and wildlife recovery. Depending on today’s weather, operations may include skimming oil from the engine-room of the wreck. To date, a total of 131,169 gal of IFO and 11,523 gal of diesel have been removed from the wreck for a total of 142,692 gal of IFO/diesel/water. All operational vessels are still in Dutch Harbour standing by to continue cleanup operations when the weather conditions allow them to do so safely. Crab processing in Dutch Harbour was completed yesterday. Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation investigators found no evidence of oil on any of the product. Processors will now turn their attention to cod and pollock, which will last until mid to late March. Today’s weather in Dutch Harbour consists of south-east winds of 40 knots diminishing to 25 knots this afternoon, 3 to 5 ft seas, rain and an air temperature of 44°.
9 February 2005. The wreck of bulk Selendang Ayu has now created the second worst oil spill in Alaska history. A remotely operated underwater vehicle has now determined that at least 320,000 gal spilled from the grounded ship. The US Coast Guard says the oil leaked from tanks in the centre and the front of the ship. It now means a total of 360,000 gal of fuel spilled from the freighter. Salvage crews were successful in emptying about 100,000 gal of oil from the rear tanks of Selendang Ayu.
9 February 2005. Weather continues to hamper Selendang Ayu response effort. Crews planned to take a closer look at soybeans along Spray Cape and search for wildlife in Humpback Bay today but are unable to due to the weather. All operational vessels remain in Dutch Harbour due to the weather. Boat crews continue to conduct maintenance and inventory the equipment on board. Water sampling surveys conducted near Chernofski Harbour found five small tar balls yesterday. Water sampling will continue in Unalaska Bay and the vicinity surrounding the bay due to fishing industry concerns. Today’s weather in Dutch Harbour consists of mostly cloudy skies with scattered snow, north-west winds of 25 knots gusting to 35 knots, 13 ft seas and an air temperature of 30°, but the wind chill brings it down to 15°.
10 February 2005. Weather continues to hamper bulk Selendang Ayu operations. Unified Command officials cancelled over flights of the shoreline and cleanup operations yesterday due to the weather and are on hold today pending better conditions. An over flight of the wreck yesterday revealed the bow section is now completely submerged with the exception of the top of the two crane houses, barely visible above the waterline. Lightering crews finished skimming oil from the engine-room and are now working on removing the remaining oil drums and smaller cans from the stern and demobilising equipment. To date total amount of oil lightered from the vessel is 144,931 gal of IFO/diesel/lube oils and a small amount of water. Boat crews continued water sampling in the vicinity of Chernofski Harbour but did not encounter any tar balls. Water sampling will continue in Unalaska Bay for fishing industry concerns. USFWS crews reported three dead oiled/scavenged birds in Nilkolski Bay yesterday. To date 1,606 dead birds have been recovered from the bays. Today’s weather in Dutch Harbour consists of west winds of 25 knots, 11 ft seas, cloudy skies with scattered snow showers and an air temperature of 35°, but the wind chill brings it down to 20°.
10 February 2005. Cleanup efforts at bulk Selendang Ayu wrecked off Unalaska Island have concluded for the winter and will resume in the spring in less dangerous weather. Experts estimate that nearly three-quarters of the fuel carried by the vessel spilled into the Bering Sea. An underwater camera investigating the wreck dashed hopes that two of the vessel’s main fuel tanks might still contain oil. Both had broken open on the rocky bottom, putting the total spill of IFO, also known as bunker oil, at about 320,000 gal, said Leslie Pearson of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. With the fuel removal complete and the worst of the spilled oil shovelled off nearby beaches, work is largely over until weather improves, which typically happens in April. When workers return, efforts will focus on cleaning additional beaches and hauling off the vessel’s 73,000 ton remains. Airborne observers will monitor the area this winter. Some 34 mile of beach were known to be contaminated. Another 150 mile of shoreline have been checked and found clean, Pearson said. Plans for the vessel’s 66,000 ton cargo of soybeans should also be made this spring, Pearson said. Knee-deep accumulations on some beaches are thought to be smothering chitons and other small inter-tidal creatures. Divers found beans nearly 5 ft deep on the bottom around the ship. To date, the cleanup has cost $25 million, according to Coast Guard spokeswoman Gail Sinner.
10 February 2005. The Unified Command said today that oil recovery operations have now been completed from bulk Selendang Ayu. A heavy-lift helicopter successfully removed more than 100,000 gal of oil from the vessel, so there is no more left on board that could leak. However, at least 321,000 gal did spill from Selendang Ayu, interfering with the fishing season and creating environmental damage that is still being assessed. Cleanup operations will resume in spring, when efforts will be made to remove oil waste from the beaches and to remove the vessel from the waters off Unalaska Island.
14 February 2005. Salvage and cleanup operations involving bulk Selendang Ayu have been shut down until spring, the Coast Guard said today. Since, January, salvage crews have removed 127,784 gal of IFO and 11,523 gal of diesel, or about 30 per cent of the fuel the vessel was carrying, Coast Guard Admiral James Olson said. The rest – more than 321,000 gal of fuel oil and an unknown amount of diesel – is presumed lost in the Bering Sea. The spill closed the Makushin Bay tanner crab fishery, and more than 1,606 dead birds have been recovered. Kurt Fredriksson, acting commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, said shoreline oil removal was also being halted until the weather improves in the spring.
27 January 2005
Exxon Valdez (USA)
Crude oil from the 1989 spill from non specific tanker Exxon Valdez still lingers in Alaska’s Prince William Sound and nearby areas, with parts of the environment still far from recovery, several scientists have said at a three-day conference. Crude oil that percolated into beach soil remains largely locked in place until otters digging for food loosen it, while eight types of sea birds affected by spilled oil show no signs of recovery, scientists from the US Geological Survey said in a report issued late on Tuesday (25 January). “I guess we didn’t anticipate that the oil would stay in the inter-tidal zone as long as it did,” said Jim Bodkin of the US Geological Survey’s Alaska Science Centre, who has studied the oil spills chronic effects on sea otters. “It certainly is unanticipated. Is there anything we can do about it? No, I don’t think there is,” Bodkin said. The conference was hosted by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, the federal-state group that administers the 1991 natural resource settlement, as well as by several other organisations. Exxon Mobil, the successor to Exxon Corp., has argued that Prince William Sound and the affected parts of the Gulf of Alaska recovered long ago from the 11 million gallons oil spill. However, effects from the spill are still seen in some of Prince William Sound’s killer whales, where certain populations have shrunk dramatically since the incident, said Craig Matkin, a marine biologist who also is a whale specialist. “We projected earlier that they’d recover in 10 years,” Matkin said. “We didn’t think the effects would drag on.” Scientists say the surprising persistence of spill effects could also have financial implications. Under a $900 million civil settlement struck in 1991 with Exxon, the federal and state governments have until September, 2006, to seek up to $100 million more in payments from the oil company for natural resource damages that could not have been reasonably predicted shortly after the spill. However, in order to use that re-opener provision, the state and federal governments must also have specific plans to address the unexpected damages.
26 January 2005
Carrollton area, Kentucky, United States
A pipeline broke and spilled 238,000 l of crude oil into the Kentucky river near Carrollton early today, creating a 15 km slick that crews were racing to contain to keep it from contaminating drinking water. It was not immediately clear what caused the rupture of the pipeline. The break, about 15 m from the north side of the riverbank, sent oil gushing into the waterway, said Dan Harden, area supervisor for Mid-Valley Pipeline Co. of Hebron, a division of Sunoco Inc. and owner of the pipeline. Workers battled the slick by deploying a boom across the north-flowing Kentucky river to divert the oil to a confined area where the goo could be skimmed from the water. Harden estimated that the cleanup could take a week, and said Mid-Valley would pay for the work.
27 January 2005. Workers today made progress removing some of an estimated 63,000 gal of crude oil that seeped into the Kentucky river from a ruptured pipeline, forming a huge slick approaching the Ohio river. Workers put up a series of booms to confine the massive slick, which at one point stretched up to 12 mile long. By this evening, workers had recovered 26,000 gal, officials said. Environmental officials had feared if the slick had reached the Ohio, it could foul drinking water supplies downriver. “So far, it is contained entirely on the Kentucky,” said Chuck Wolfe, a spokesman for the state Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet. The bulk of the oil was contained just south of Carrollton, about 7 mile from the confluence with the Ohio. It was not immediately clear what caused the rupture yesterday. The pipeline carries about 180,000 barrels of crude daily from the Gulf Coast to refineries in north-west Ohio. The break, about 50 ft from the north side of the river bank, sent oil gushing into the waterway, said Dan Harden, area supervisor for Mid-Valley Pipeline Co. of Hebron, a division of Sunoco Inc. and owner of the pipeline. The pipeline and the river are usually farther apart, but recent rain and snow swelled the waterway. Harden estimated the cleanup could take a week, and said Mid-Valley would pay for the work. He did not have an estimated cost. The spill posed no public health risk, despite a strong diesel fuel odour, said EPA onsite co-ordinator Art Smith. There were no reports of fires or injuries. He has predicted the cleanup would recover a large amount of oil, but said it was unlikely all of it could be retrieved. The effect on wildlife may be minimised by the time of year and by the thickness of the oil, which means it will probably float, said Mark Marraccini, a spokesman with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. The pipeline is checked periodically by sending electronic devices through the line, Harden said. The section of line that ruptured was last checked in the past few years, he said.
30 January 2005. Crews are making progress in cleaning a fouled section of the Kentucky river near Madison, Indiana. Crews today cleared much of the 63,000 gal of crude oil that spilled from a ruptured pipeline about 4 mile from the confluence of the Kentucky and Ohio rivers. As of late yesterday, about 45,000 gal, or two-thirds of the spill, had been removed. Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet spokesman Chuck Wolfe says along with mopping up the oil from the river, workers were beginning to clear the shoreline. It was not clear what caused the early Wednesday (26 January) rupture of the underground pipeline, which carries up to 195,000 barrels of crude daily from the Gulf Coast to refineries in Ohio.
12 February 2005
Genmar Kestrel (Marshall Islands)
An oil slick caused when two tankers (crude oil tankers GenMar Kestrel and Trijata) collided off Egypt’s Mediterranean coast nine days ago reached the southern Israeli coast this morning. The Health Ministry has issued a warning against bathing in the area of Rishon Letzion’s Palmahim beach or eating fish from the same area. Despite the warning, several people took advantage of the weekend’s high winds to wind-surf off the coast. But Environment Ministry officials said the slick would not drift further north, saying they believed “we are dealing with a very small slick that will disappear within several days.” Israel was warned of the spill by the Egyptian authorities, which share environmental cooperation agreements. The Environment Ministry was able to trace several slicks moving toward Israel using scout planes, but most of them drifted into the sea.
14 February 2005. An independent technical assessment team boarded Trijata and has completed their investigation. Arrangements are now being made for a ship-to-ship transfer of the cargo. Thereafter, the vessel will proceed for repairs. GBLT continues to work through International Tanker Owners’ Pollution Federation (ITOPF), who will be continuously reviewing and monitoring the situation in consultation, with the authorities.
16 February 2005. Transhipment of Iranian crude oil from damaged crude oil tanker GenMar Kestrel is likely to start just off the coast of Cyprus within the week, after a landmark decision by Cyprus. The order, signed yesterday by Minister of Communications and Works, Haris Thrasou, allows the transfer of about 133,000 ton of cargo to crude oil tanker Searacer, chartered for this purpose. The operation, about 3 km offshore in the Vasiliko region, should last three days, although the permission is subject to a number of conditions in line with regulations. A technical study from classification society ABS for unloading must be approved by the maritime administration. The Cypriots will also want to see and approve plans for preventing and containing any pollution. Statutory requirements include that the ship, a UK club member, is fully insured and that a double-hulled tanker will receive the cargo. Cyprus’ move is believed to be the first by a European country to allow a major emergency transhipment operation in territorial waters since the EU Community Vessel Traffic Monitoring and Information System directive, which includes an obligation on states to provide places of refuge, came into force last year. However, maritime officials said that the country had refused an application from the operators of crude oil tanker Trijata to carry out a similar operation. The reason given was that the Indonesian operator has chartered in a single skin tanker for transhipment. This could not be confirmed with the company yesterday. Trijata has been ordered away from Cypriot waters, it is understood. Cyprus Department of Merchant Shipping senior surveyor Andreas Constantinou said:This decision does not imply that any vessel in distress in the Mediterranean can come to Cyprus because other countries have obligations. But we are a responsible maritime country and a member of the EU. We do not believe in simply transferring problems to somewhere else.
The decision was taken on the recommendation of the island’s Advisory Committee on Shelters – Safety, which includes representatives of Cyprus’ ports authority, fisheries department, environmental department and regional authorities, as well as a senior maritime official. The minister claimed that his order took into consideration that the condition of the vessel could “constitute a serious and imminent threat for the coastline and the marine environment (if) its presence and activities are not placed under the control and the monitoring of the competent authorities of the Republic of Cyprus”.
16 February 2005. Crude oil tankers GenMar Kestrel and Trijata were in collision 39 mile from the Mediterranean coast due to heavy winds. Neither vessel requested any assistance from Egypt. They left the scene of the accident and were not arrested because they were out of Egyptian waters by about 14 mile. The oil spill moved to the east and did not come near to Egypt’s coast.
17 February 2005. GBLT Ship Management would like to clarify the facts surrounding its arrangements for ship-to-ship transfer of its cargo from crude oil tanker Trijata (which was in collision with crude oil tanker GenMar Kestrel). Contrary to an earlier report Trijata was not ordered away from Cypriot waters, the company said. The decision to undertake STS transfer in international waters was made by GBLT Ship Management in consultation with its technical advisers and the vessel’s classification society. The cargo will be transferred from Trijata to the single-hull crude oil tanker Front Target in international waters as soon as conditions are safe to proceed, the company said.