Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

December 25, 2009

Alaska oil spill sounds alarm on Bligh Reef


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Bligh Reef, the site of the nation’s worst oil spill 20 years ago, is again the scene of a shipping mishap. Last night a 136-foot tugboat ran aground on the infamous reef in Prince William Sound and ripped a 4-5 foot hole in its keel.

More than 33,000 gallons of diesel oil spilled from Crowley Maritime’s “Pathfinder” which was scouting for ice in the area. According to news reports, after the 6:15 PM grounding, the tug crew managed to move off the reef and the boat is anchored near Busby Island and is surrounded by containment booms.

As of today an International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) crew is on alert for possible deployment to the Alaska spill.

Reports say that more than 4 feet of the Pathfinder’s keel is gone. The Coast Guard says an overflight on the morning of December 24, reported oil on the water. The tugboat is based in Valdez, Alaska. Crowley tugboat fleet

The notorious Bligh Reef is where the Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground in March 1989, spilling at least 11 million gallons of crude oil. During that spill an IBRRC response team spent 6 months helping manage oiled wildlife response efforts.

Media reports:

The Christmas Oil Grinch
: The Huffington Post

Tug Grounds on Same Reef as Exxon Valdez Tanker
: ABC News

What Ever Happened to the Exxon Valdez Spill?: Slate Online

Exxon Valdez Spill 1989
: YouTube

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