[Update] Fuel Barge Grounds Near Kodiak, Alaska

By MarEx 2014-11-02 15:27:00

The U.S. Coast Guard is responding to a barge, which grounded near Kodiak, Alaska, Saturday. The 382-foot barge DBL106 ran aground approximately two miles from Kodiak with a potential of 2.2 million gallons of fuel products aboard while being towed by the 124-foot motor vessel Bismarck Sea. The barge was successfully refloated, but Coast Guard officials have directed the vessel to anchor until a damage assessment is conducted.   

Coast Guard watchstanders at the Sector Anchorage command center received a report of the grounding from Kirby Offshore Marine, the owners of the Bismarck Sea, early Saturday morning. Sector Anchorage personnel requested the launch of a C-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Kodiak to provide an overflight of the area and diverted the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Spar to the scene.

No sign of pollution was reported at the time of the grounding. Once at anchor, the vessel will be boomed off to prevent any potential pollution from spreading. A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Kodiak will conduct an overflight of the area at first light and Coast Guard inspection personnel will deploy to the scene to examine the barge.

"The Coast Guard is deploying resources to the scene and has directed the vessel's owners to anchor until a thorough damage assessment can be made," said Captain Paul Mehler, Sector Anchorage commander. "Our priority is to ensure the safety of the public and the environment."

No injuries were reported. The weather on scene is reported to be calm with 11-17 mph winds and 3-4 foot seas.   

Second Barge Incident

This is a separate barge incident to the 134-foot barge still drifting in the Beaufort Sea after it broke free from its tow in Canadian waters during a severe storm over a week ago.

The self-propelled, unmanned barge, carrying 950 gallons of diesel fuel, broke free from the vessel towing it and began drifting west with the wind. The barge's owner, Northern Transportation Corporation Limited, notified the Canadian coast guard, who immediately issued a Notice to Shipping to advise mariners.

According to Pacific Environment, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Prevention and Emergency Response Program were unable to locate the barge as of Friday, 31 October: “Although yesterday's overflight was unsuccessful in locating the barge, it did reveal that there is significantly more ice coverage than on Tuesday. The USCG estimates that ice now stretches 5-10 miles offshore. It is therefore reasonable to believe that the barge will not enter Alaskan waters before freezing in place this winter.”

“It is unclear what level of future effort will be applied to locating the barge and dealing with the fuel that was known to be on board,” says Sue Libenson, a spokesperson from Pacific Environment. “In this case, the barge is carrying diesel which is problematic if spilled, but less catastrophic than a spill of heavy fuel oil. It would also be interesting to ask whether it's possible that the barge may have sunk. In either case, this is the latest incident demonstrating the need for strong regulation of shipping in Arctic waters and how quickly a situation can go out of control.

“Shell's loss of control of the Kulluk after it broke away from its tug last winter was well documented. Less reported was damage to a Russian tanker loaded with diesel after it hit ice off the coast of Siberia.”