An oil tanker owned by Exxon Mobil subsidiary SeaRiver Maritime
was ordered back to Valdez on May 22 after developing a leak, the operator of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline said.
The SeaRiver Long Beach was about 10 minutes into its journey from the Valdez marine terminal when crew members from an escort vessel spotted an oil sheen in its wake, said Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.
The U.S. Coast Guard ordered the tanker back to the terminal, where it was surrounded with boom and examined, Alyeska said.
Divers discovered a three-inch hairline fracture in the center cargo tank, a spokesperson said, adding that less than 10 gallons of oil had leaked through the crack.
The oil from the Long Beach was loaded the Marine Columbia, operated by the Alaska Tanker Co. for BP Amoco, which was set to take the cargo to Puget Sound. A nearby salmon hatchery
was sealed with protective boom, and officials were prepared to do the same for the Valdez duck flats if necessary.