Friday, June 5, 2015

Punctured Tanks Leads to Alaska Gulf Oil Spill

By Mark Edward Nero

A 9,000-gallon diesel fuel tank being carried aboard a landing craft was punctured and began leaking when the vessel encountered heavy seas in Cook Inlet in late May, resulting in two-thirds of the tanks capacity spilling into the ocean.

The 116-foot Thors Hammer was en route from Seward to Bristol Bay when the incident occurred south of Port Graham.

Representatives from the US Coast Guard, Department of the Interior, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, city of Seldovia, Alaska and the responsible party all responded to the 6,000-gallon diesel fuel discharge into the Gulf of Alaska. Fuel removal from the damaged tank trailer aboard the motor vessel was completed on May 26.

Response crews and contractors from Alaska Chadux Corp. removed the 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel remaining in the punctured tank, as well as 28 bags of oily waste collected by the Thors Hammer crew. The 6,000 gallons of spilled diesel is no longer recoverable due to weathering and evaporation, according to the Coast Guard.

A western Alaska captain of the port order required Thors Hammer to remain in Seldovia until the vessel was cleaned and determined to be safe for transit. The vessel was later authorized to proceed to Homer, Alaska where, after Coast Guard marine safety personnel conducted a safety examination, the vessel was ordered to remain until determined safe for commercial operation. The Coast Guard is currently conducting an investigation into the vessels operations.

Thors Hammer, built in 1978, is a 321-foot long (98 meters) and 59-foot-wide (18 meters) USA-flagged cargo ship owned by Alaska-based Viking Constructors LLC.