Spill Prevention & Response: Old Lessons, New Challenges
Emerging spill response trends fit into two big categories: technology and a combination of economic and social forces. Both will shape what comes next.Florida’s stunning Tampa Bay stands out as exactly the kind of place where you have to think about hazardous materials emergencies. It was 25 years ago, on August 10, 1993, that a freighter collided with two barges near the entrance of Tampa Bay, causing a fire and spilling over 32,000 gallons of jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline and about 330,000 gallons of heavy fuel, devastating beaches, wildlife and habitat.
Whether driven by treasure hunting or environmental protection, the days of forgotten wrecks, even at great depths, is past. It seems like every month we see reports of long-lost maritime wrecks being discovered on the ocean bottom and treasures being salvaged from great depths. We also hear regularly of oil being recovered from sunken wrecks. There is now no practical limit to the ability to recover objects from the sea floor, regardless of depth, currents, weather, or other obstacles. The only existing obstacle seems to be financing - and costs are decreasing regularly.
Chalos Joins K&L Gates New York Office
Michael G. Chalos has joined the New York office of global law firm K&L Gates LLP as a partner in the maritime practice. Previously the senior partner at the firm of Chalos O’Connor, LLP, Chalos is accompanied in his move by associates Luke Reid and George Kontakis in the firm’s Boston and New York offices, respectively. With a focus on traditional maritime and criminal environmental law, Chalos represents clients involved in high-profile civil and criminal environmental litigation. This has included the successful defense of the masters of the Exxon Valdez oil tanker and Selendang Ayu cargo ship, as well as numerous United States- and foreign-based corporations, ship owners, managers, operators, and crew who were the targets of criminal investigations by the U.S. government.
Disasters at Sea & Their Impact on Shipping Regulation
The history of marine safety is soaked in water and written in blood. “I think that most people will tell you that changes in marine safety are almost exclusively disaster-driven,” agrees Dr. Josh Smith, a professor at Kings Point and interim director of the American Merchant Marine Museum. It hasn’t always been that way. Actually, it’s been worse. Despite some efforts early on to exert some control over shipping practices, going to sea has been accepted as a risky undertaking as long as man has floated vessels.
Marine Salavage: Responder Immunity Benefits a Responsible Party
Putting to rest the fears and misconceptions about what responder immunity means and what it will eventually do. It’s all good. As many in the response industry, and in many cases the marine industry in general appreciate, there has been an extended effort to enact an enhanced responder immunity regime following the lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon incident. It is hard to believe that we only recently observed the fourth anniversary of this unfortunate incident. And…
It All Flows Downstream
Oil spills, trash, debris, sediment, chemicals: how do we keep our waterways clean? If an oil spill happens on water, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA90) has very clear rules on who is responsible for paying for cleanup costs. Most oil spills can be traced to the spiller – a pipeline owner, oil tanker, shipper, railroad or trucking company. “Pointing a finger” at the alleged party may be why this type of pollution is referred to as “point source.” If the oil spill is ruled an accident and the polluter is not legally responsible…
NOAA Identifies Lurking Environmental Threats
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…
Oil Spill Response in Seattle's Salmon Bay
The U.S. Coast Guard and Washington State Department of Ecology continue to oversee the cleanup and investigate the cause of an oil spill that appeared earlier this week in the Ballard Mill Marina, on Salmon Bay, along the Lake Washington Ship Canal. The Coast Guard and Ecology received reports Monday morning of oil, accompanied by strong petroleum odors in the waters. No one has come forward to take responsibility for the spill, and the Coast Guard has utilized the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to hire Global Diving and Salvage to conduct the cleanup.
Salvor to Remove Beached Vessel in Texas
The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) contracted a salvage company to remove the threat of pollution from a derelict fishing vessel that went aground Thursday, about 20 miles south of Freeport, Texas, on Sargent Beach. The captain of the vessel Lady Glenda contacted Sector Houston/Galveston watchstanders just after noon Tuesday and reported the vessel Rich listing with marine growth and drifting about 20 miles southeast of Freeport. A Station Freeport 45-foot Response Boat — Medium boatcrew located the vessel that afternoon but weren't able to go aboard due to safety concerns.
US, ATP-IP Reach Settlement over Unauthorized Oil Discharges
Under a settlement agreement with the United States, ATP Infrastructure Partners, LP (ATP-IP) will pay a $1 million civil penalty and perform corrective measures to resolve claims by the U.S. under the Clean Water Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) of unauthorized discharges of oil and chemicals from an oil platform into the Gulf of Mexico, announced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). This is the first joint judicial enforcement action involving EPA and BSEE claims in response to alleged violations of both the Clean Water Act and OCSLA. The United States’ complaint, which was filed in February 2013, in the U.S.
Minor Lube Oil Discharge in Baltimore
U.S. Coast Guard and Maryland Department of the Environment personnel are investigating and overseeing cleanup of a lube oil discharge near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor Monday. A National Response Center report was made Friday about a rainbow sheen in the harbor near Pier 6, which alerted Coast Guard and MDE pollution response personnel to investigate. It is estimated that approximately 50 gallons of lube oil has discharged into the harbor through the Jones Falls outfall near the 2100 block of Falls Road. Hard boom and sorbent materials have been deployed and contractors are on scene recovering the product. The source of the oil and responsible party have not yet been identified. The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund is being used to pay for response efforts.
Fuel Removed from Sunken Fishing Vessel
The U.S. Coast Guard hired a contractor Thursday to remove the remaining fuel and hazardous substances that may be aboard the sunken commercial fishing vessel Lady Eva in Shem Creek, in Mount Pleasant, S.C. The contractor, Moran Environmental, was hired after the owner’s attempts to do so were unsuccessful. Charleston County 911 Consolidated Dispatch notified the Coast Guard that the 70-foot vessel was sinking at the dock, Wednesday morning. Members assigned to Coast Guard Sector Charleston were dispatched to monitor the recovery efforts of the vessel, including the potential discharge of fuel and hazardous materials. As a result of the recovery efforts by the owner, Coast Guard hired a contractor, Moran Environmental, to conduct clean up operations.
Responders Monitoring Sunken Tug in Alaska
Alaska's Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Natural Resources joined Coast Guard Sector Juneau personnel in responding to the tugboat, Challenger, which sank in Juneau's Gastineau channel September 12, 2015. Global Diving & Salvage and Southeast Alaska Lighterage (SEAL) were contracted and have removed all accessible pollution sources and hazards from the vessel. SEAL replaced the boom around the vessel today. The Coast Guard and DEC will continue monitoring for any further oil seepage and environmental impacts.
Interview: Todd Schauer - President, American Salvage Association
Todd Schauer is Director of Operations at Resolve Marine Group, as well as President of the American Salvage Association. After graduating from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy with a degree in Naval Architecture in 1991, he followed that up with graduate degrees in Naval Architecture, Marine Engineering and Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan. And, while his considerable U.S. Coast Guard experience includes shipboard engineering, marine safety, advanced engineering and emergency response, he is best known for his longtime role in the commercial salvage business.
Fishing Company Charged Over $1 Mln in Oil Spill Penalties
Tri-Marine Management Co., Tri-Marine Fishing Management and Cape Mendocino Fishing (Tri-Marine) have agreed to pay $1.05 million in civil penalties and to perform fleet-wide inspections and other corrective measures to resolve claims stemming from an October 2014 oil spill in American Samoa and related violations of spill prevention regulations, the Department of Justice and the Coast Guard announced today. In its complaint, filed today along with the lodging of a consent decree in the U.S.
Unified Command to Tackle Oil Spill in Shuyak Strait, Alaska
Coast Guard and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation have established a Unified Command in response to an oil spill 49 miles north of Kodiak in Shuyak Strait, Tuesday. The spill reportedly occurred Monday morning after an abandoned building collapsed during extreme weather conditions. An oil fuel bladder located inside the building fell in the water releasing a max potential of 3,000 gallons of bunker C fuel oil. Coast Guard, ADEC and Alaska Chadux Corporation personnel are currently responding to the fuel release.
USCG Respond to Sunken Vessel in Honolulu Harbor
The Coast Guard and Department of Transportation Harbors are responding to a diesel fuel spill from an abandoned fishing vessel that sank in Honolulu Harbor, Monday. The Coast Guard received notification at 6:30 p.m. Sunday from a reporting source that the 77 - foot fishing vessel Judy K was sinking at Pier 16 in Honolulu Harbor. The Coast Guard deployed approximately 150 feet of boom as well as absorbent pads to retrieve and contain the sheen coming from the vessel. An estimated 50 gallons of diesel fuel spilled into the water before containment boom was put into place.
Incentivizing Spill Response Innovation
Researchers tackle the tough problems despite a lack of funding and official incentives to move forward. Progress, in particular for Arctic spill response equipment and techniques, is being made. Even in the messy but now seemingly distant wake of such environmental disasters such as the Exxon Valdez grounding and the Deepwater Horizon accident, domestic oil spill response requirements still provide little or no incentive for responders in the U.S. to develop and deploy new equipment.
USCG Responds to Pollution from Sunken Vessel
Coast Guard, National Response Center and Washington State Department of Ecology personnel responded to oil pollution from a sunken 67-foot commercial vessel at Westhaven Marina near Grays Harbor, Wash., Sunday. Responders from the Coast Guard Incident Management Division in Astoria will arrive on scene Monday morning and will be working with partner agencies to monitor the situation and oversee the cleanup. After receiving a report of a possible sinking vessel at Westhaven Marina at approximately 12:40 p.m.…
USCG Leading Marina Pollution Response
U.S. Coast Guard pollution responders are continuing to respond to reports of pollution in Charleston City, Bristol and Ashley River marinas Sunday. Boaters reported pools of thick, purple diesel-type product pooling in the marinas Saturday evening. A decision was made late Saturday night to federalize the response in order to use the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for cleanup, but by Sunday morning most of the product had dissipated and became unrecoverable due to heavy rainfall so the fund was not needed.
Argo Response Completed
The response effort to remove a hazardous cargo from the 104-year-old sunken tank barge Argo in Lake Erie officially ended Monday afternoon with the demobilization of all remaining equipment. Contracted by the U.S. Coast Guard as part of a Unified Command effort, salvors T&T Salvage recovered the highly toxic cargo from the 1911-built Argo, which sank in 1937 laden with a cargo of benzol that contained a high percentage of the carcinogen benzene. A total of 33,475 gallons of cargo and water mixture were removed from the vessel.
Oil Cleanup Continues in Oakland Estuary
Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Francisco Incident Management Division were notified by the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) on-scene coordinator that their contractor, Global Diving and Salvage, Inc. (GDSI), had discovered tar balls and heavy oil while removing sediment from the tug Respect in the Oakland Estuary Oct. 14, 2013. Further research on the Respect showed an estimated 300-500 gallons of oil had been left aboard during removal operations conducted in 1998. The Respect was then vandalized in 2007 and sank with an unknown oil potential.
Fishing Companies to Pay $400,000 for Pollution Claims
Challenge Fisheries LLC, Quinn Fisheries Inc., Charles Quinn II, and Charles Quinn III have agreed to pay a total of $414,000 in civil penalties and to perform fleet-wide improvements and other compliance assurance measures to resolve federal Clean Water Act claims stemming from oily bilge discharges from the commercial fishing vessel Challenge, and a related fuel oil discharge in August 2017 in New Bedford Harbor, Mass., the Department of Justice and the Coast Guard announced.In its complaint filed Monday, along with the lodging of a consent decree in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the United States alleges…