Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Bulk Carrier Spills Oil in Columbia River

By Mark Edward Nero

The bulk carrier Nord Auckland spilled roughly 80 gallons of oil in the Columbia River while anchored near the Port of Kalama on Feb. 18, the US Coast Guard and Washington Dept. of Ecology say.

According to the USCG, watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River received reports of sheening in the water from National Response Center personnel shortly after 10 am on the date of the incident, then about 1 pm, pollution response experts from the Incident Management Division, based at Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Portland, Oregon, arrived on scene.

Dept. of Ecology staff later participated in an overflight surveillance and observed a number of sheening trails downriver. Oil was observed near shorelines and near wildlife concentrations, however, no direct observations of oiled wildlife have been reported, according to the USCG.

The 610-foot Singapore-flagged Nord Auckland, which was built in 2010, reportedly released bunker oil due to operator error: the oil was intended to be burned in the incinerator.

The vessel’s owner contracted the spill response and prevention non-profit Clean Rivers Cooperative, which responded with crews on two booming vessels to engage in cleanup operations.

However, after performing a close inspection of the oil observed by air, the boat assessment team determined that the oil was too thin and weathered to be recovered by mechanical collection methods.
The incident is still under investigation, according to Coast Guard Sector Columbia River.