Chemical Tankers Considered Extremely Dangerous
In February, 2003, the 569-foot chemical tanker, Cefalonia, ran around in Pittsburg, California and sat there for three days until the tides and three tugboats freed it. The tanker was transporting 27,000 tons of ammonium nitrate, the same chemical used by Timothy McVeigh to blow up the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. The USCG database for the region says that in the past decade there have been 23 mishaps.
OPA90 and all Western States require every petroleum tanker entering or departing ports with cargo to be escorted by tugboats in case of loss of power, steering, or any other emergency that might otherwise disable the ship while in transit. However, chemical tankers are not required to have a tug escort.
The recent ?Cefalonia? grounding has renewed interest for escorting these types of tankers, and the San Francisco Harbor Safety Group is reviewing its options. However, there are many complexities regarding international treaties and state and federal laws yet to be overcome.