The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration completed a survey today revealing that the double-hulled tank barge DBL 152 struck a submerged platform on Nov. 10, while en route from Houston to Tampa, Fla. The platform gouged a 35-foot long by 6-foot wide hole in the barge's starboard bow, puncturing both hulls and damaging the number one cargo tank.
The platform West Cameron 229A, owned by Targa Midstream Services Limited Partnership, was a non-producing platform used to support pipeline inspection and operation. It is normally above the surface of the water but was damaged and sank during Hurricane Rita. Following the storm the company located their platform and marked it with unlit buoys.
Response crews began lightering the fuel from the double-hulled tank barge DBL 152. At 4 p.m. today, more than 400,000 gallons of oil had been lightered from the barge. Lightering is the process of off-loading oil cargo using hoses and pumps. The majority of the oil from the DBL 152 will be lightered prior to the salvaging of the barge.
Three cargo tanks of the double-hulled tank barge DBL 152 were damaged and leaked oil. The number one starboard cargo tank, containing approximately 300,000 gallons of oil, was damaged in the collision with debris on Nov. 10. The number one port cargo tank and the number three starboard cargo tanks were breached sometime after the barge DBL 152 capsized on Nov. 14. The cargo tanks contained approximately 440,000 gallons and 564,000 gallons of oil.
The entire contents of all three damaged cargo tanks were 1,309,000 gallons of oil. The barge's oil cargo is a thick, heavy petroleum product known as number-six fuel oil. The oil is heavier than water, and it sinks to the bottom of the sea.
Initial surveys indicate that a large portion of the oil in the damaged cargo tanks leaked out and settled on the ocean floor. Responders are staging equipment to conduct sonar and video surveys of the submerged oil and are monitoring the movement, if any, of the oil on the ocean floor.
The Texas General Land Office continues to monitor Texas beaches for any indication of oiling. The TGLO, the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator's Office, the barge owner, the Coast Guard, and other agencies have developed a shoreline clean-up plan, which will be implemented if oil is found along the Texas or Louisiana coastlines. No oil from the double-hulled tank barge DBL 152 has reached either the Texas or Louisiana coast.
The double-hulled tank barge DBL 152, owned by K-Sea Transportation
of New York, is not obstructing marine traffic, and all area waterways remain open. A four-mile safety zone is in effect around the barge a second safety zone is around the damaged platform. Both are marked with lighted buoys. The incident is under investigation by the Coast Guard.