NOAA Identifies Lurking Environmental Threats

Marine News
Monday, September 09, 2013

A new NOAA report that examines national oil pollution threat from shipwrecks has been presented to the U.S. Coast Guard. With as many as 20,000 recorded shipwrecks in NOAA’s database, the May 2013 report finds that just 36 sunken vessels scattered across the U.S. seafloor could pose an oil pollution threat to the nation’s coastal marine resources. Of those, 17 were recommended for further assessment and potential removal of both fuel oil and oil cargo. Based on vessel contents, condition, environmental sensitivity, and other factors, NOAA has determined that six vessels are high priority for a Most Probable (10%) discharge, and 36 are high priority for a Worst Case Discharge (Table ES-1).

NOAA’s Remediation of Underwater Legacy Environmental Threats (RULET) project identifies the location and nature of potential sources of oil pollution. Knowing where these vessels are helps oil response planning efforts and may help in the investigation of mystery spills--sightings of oil where a source is not immediately known. In 2010, Congress appropriated $1 million for NOAA to develop a list of the most significant potentially polluting wrecks in U.S. waters, specifically addressing ecological and socio-economic resources at risk. Those funds were not intended for oil or vessel removal. NOAA maintains the internal Resources and UnderSea Threats (RUST) database of as many as 30,000 sites of sunken material. Initial screening of these shipwrecks revealed 573 that could pose substantial pollution risks. This includes vessels built after 1891, when U.S. vessels began using fuel oil; vessels over 1,000 gross tons and built of steel, and tank vessels. Additional research narrowed that number to 107.

To prioritize and determine which vessels are candidates for further evaluation, NOAA used a series of risk factors to assess the likelihood of oil remaining onboard, and the potential environmental impact if that oil spills. NOAA used risk factors to assess physical integrity and pollution potential as well as other factors that may impact potential removal operations. Risk factors included: total oil volume on board; oil type; if the wreck was reported to have been cleared as a hazard to navigation or demolished; if significant amount of oil was lost during the casualty; and the nature of the casualty that would reduce the amount of oil onboard. Factors impacting operations were wreck orientation on seafloor; depth; visual or remote sensing confirmation of conditions; other hazardous materials onboard; if munitions were onboard; and if the wreck is of historic significance and will require special handling. Each factor was also assigned a data quality rating. At the end of the evaluation, each vessel was given an overall vessel risk score of High, Medium, or Low. After this third level of screening, 87 wrecks remained on the priority list.
Oil discharges from shipwrecks are typically in the “Most Probable” category or smaller. Funding for any assessment or recovery operations determined to be necessary is dependent on unique circumstances for the wreck. If a wreck still has an identifiable owner, that owner is responsible for the cost of cleanup. If no responsible party exists, the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund would likely be accessed. Selecting any vessel for proactive response requires further analysis including spill trajectory studies and monitoring or oil removal feasibility studies. While the salvage industry and oil spill response organizations have demonstrated great advancements in underwater oil removal technologies, in many cases the best alternative may not be removal of oil, but rather to monitor the wreck and plan for potential spills. The cost of removing oil from a wreck varies widely, depending on conditions and as depicted in Table 4-4. 

Based on the NOAA report, there is plenty of business out there – literally lurking just under the surface. No doubt, American ASA Salvors are standing by; if needed. View the report at:
http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/protect/ppw/pdfs/2013_potentiallypollutingwrecks.pdf

(As published in the August 2013 edition of Marine News - www.marinelink.com)

Maritime Reporter August 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Environmental

The Hour of Power

Hybrid Marine Technology and Green Ports In 2015 two significant developments are going to make many operators, owners and builders of professional vessels consider hybrid marine power.

Hurricane Fred Strengthens in Eastern Atlantic

Hurricane Fred strengthened early Monday in the eastern Atlantic as it approached the Cape Verde Islands, while the remnants of Tropical Storm Erika brought flooding to parts of South Carolina,

TOTE’s 2nd LNG Containership Launched

Shipping company TOTE and shipbuilder NASSCO on Saturday launched Perla del Caribe, the second of two Marlin Class ships – the first containerships in the world to be powered by natural gas.

News

China Merchants Profit up 29pct

While China’s ports continue to face growth pressure, the country’s largest port operator is reaping the rewards of years of investments in overseas projects.   China

Swire Upgrades Asia-Pac Coverage

Singapore-based liner trade division of The China Navigation Company (CNC) Swire Shipping has upgraded its multipurpose liner service coverage in the Asia Pacific region.

Baltimore Port Shipments Hit New Record

Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore's public terminals shipped a record 9.74 million tons of general cargo in the 2015 fiscal year ending June 30, it said Monday.

Coast Guard

Historic WW I Shipwreck Survey Underway

Partnering U.S. agencies have commenced surveying the historic shipwreck of an American lightship shelled and sunk by a German U-boat during World War I nearly 100 years ago.

Cargo Ship Collides with Fueling Vessel at Sea

A 24-meter fuelling vessel, Erin Wood, was towed to Peterhead Saturday after a collision with a Cyprus registered cargo vessel, Daroja, the U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) reported.

Greek Coastguard Rescues 2,500 over Three Days

Greece's coastguard has rescued about 2,500 migrants and refugees off the country's eastern islands over the past three days, authorities said on Monday, as the

Ocean Observation

Seychelles to Join India-led Maritime Security Alliance

Seychelles  said that Indian ocean region "belongs" to countries sharing maritime boundaries and said it was "actively" considering participating in a security

Hurricane Fred Strengthens in Eastern Atlantic

Hurricane Fred strengthened early Monday in the eastern Atlantic as it approached the Cape Verde Islands, while the remnants of Tropical Storm Erika brought flooding to parts of South Carolina,

Eni Finds Giant Egyptian Offshore Gas Field

The Italian energy major Eni SpA discovered a “super giant” natural gas field offshore Egypt in what the Italian oil company said is the largest find in the Mediterranean Sea.

Subsea Salvage

Historic WW I Shipwreck Survey Underway

Partnering U.S. agencies have commenced surveying the historic shipwreck of an American lightship shelled and sunk by a German U-boat during World War I nearly 100 years ago.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Security Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Offshore Oil Salvage Ship Repair Ship Simulators Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.9483 sec (1 req/sec)