Every Bird Matters
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Posts Tagged ‘Bligh reef’

December 28, 2009

Bligh Reef diesel spill disperses in high seas

An IBRRC Response Team was released from alert on Christmas day after a diesel fuel spill dispersed in heavy Alaska seas.

The response crew was on standby after a tugboat struck the infamous Bligh Reef last Wednesday and dumped diesel into Prince William Sound. Initial news reports claimed it spilled up to 33,000 gallons of fuel.

By the weekend, high seas and 25 knot winds helped disperse the diesel after the 136-foot “Pathfinder” tugboat ran aground on the the reef that was the scene of the catastrophic Exxon Valdez spill in 1989.

The tugboat had just finished checking for dangerous ice in shipping lanes and was heading back to port in Valdez when it hit Bligh Reef. The December 23rd collision tore open two fuel tanks.

After limping off the reef toward Busby Island, the boat was surrounded by floating booms, crews pumped out the remaining fuel before towing it back to Valdez, Alaska for repairs.

Diesel fuel a very light fuel compared with the heavy black crude that spilled from the Exxon Valdez. During that spill 11 million gallons of crude stained beaches and inlets over a 1200 mile area. The tugboat is part of the Ship Escort Response Vessel System that was created after the Exxon spill.

News reports

Crews prepare to remove remaining fuel from crippled tug: Alaska Daily News

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Charly Hengen)

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