Incident Responses for August 2018

Posted Fri, 09/07/2018 - 12:54


Every month our Emergency Response Division provides scientific expertise and services to the U.S. Coast Guard on everything from running oil spill trajectories to model where the spill may spread, to possible effects on wildlife and fisheries, and estimates on how long the oil may stay in the environment.

This month OR&R responded to 13 incidents, including oil discharges, sunken vessels, and hazardous material releases.

Here are some of August’s notable incidents:

Gasoline and Asphalt Releasing into Vermillion, Ohio Marina After Leak Discovered

On Aug. 23, NOAA received reports that a leak had developed along an underground fuel line connecting to fuel pumps from an 8,000 gallon above-ground gasoline tank at a local marina in Vermilion, Ohio. Marine Safety Unit Cleveland told NOAA the incident had been discovered on Friday, Aug. 17.

At the time of the notification, approximately 829 gallons of gasoline was unaccounted for — the majority of which is believed to be saturated in the ground under the asphalt and slowly leaching out, causing a rainbow sheen and deteriorated asphalt to enter the Vermilion River. Discharged oil was being contained along the pier with hard boom and sorbent material. OR&R was asked for a report on the wildlife and other natural resources at risk in the area.

Smoke rising from a vessel at a dock.
On Aug. 24, the U.S. Coast Guard notified NOAA that a 42-foot tuna boat caught fire at the dock on Merrimack River in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Vessel Catches Fire and Sinks in Merrimack River, Massachusetts

On Aug. 24, the U.S. Coast Guard notified NOAA that a 42-foot tuna boat caught fire at the dock on Merrimack River in Newburyport, Massachusetts. The vessel sank at the dock and was reportedly carrying 500 gallons of marine diesel onboard at the time it caught fire. The Coast Guard requested that OR&R provide trajectory for a potential fuel release.

An animated GIF of an overflight depicting oil along a shoreline.
An overflight shows an oil sheen along the shoreline in Port Arthur, Texas.

Two Vessels Collide near Port Arthur, Texas Release Over 1,000 Gallons of Oil

On Aug. 29, the Coast Guard contacted NOAA regarding a collision between two vessels in Port Arthur, Texas. A tank barge collided with the M/V Endurance trust, creating a 4-foot gash in one of the tanks. NOAA was asked to run fate and trajectory modeling. About a third of the tank — 1,176 gallons — of vacuum gas oil was estimated to have released at Flint Hills Resource Dock 3 in the Corpus Christi Inner Harbor.

Clean-up efforts involved using approximately 1,700 feet of pollution boom around the site of the collision. Skimmers, vacuum trucks, and frac tanks were brought on scene to remove oil from the water.

For more information, view the recent Coast Guard update.

Vessel Catches Fire, Releases Oil, and Sinks near Port Isabel, Texas

On Aug. 31, the Coast Guard notified NOAA that a vessel was reportedly on fire 40 miles east of Port Isabel, Texas. At the time it caught fire, the 68-foot fishing vessel Master D was carrying an estimated 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 400 gallons of lube oil. A ½ mile sheen was observed behind the vessel. The Coast Guard asked OR&R to provide a trajectory for the oil and to report on the potential resources at risk.

The Coast Guard had received an emergency radio beacon alert from the fishing vessel and traced the beacon to the vessel’s location. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Coho found the fishing vessel and the three-person crew nearby in a life raft. The crew was safely transported back to their station.  

The Coast Guard opened the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for the incident that is categorized as a major marine casualty to help mitigate pollution threats to the environment as they arise, according to a Coast Guard press release. The Coast Guard established a 500-yard safety zone around the vessel.

The fishing vessel sank 58 miles from Port Isabel on Saturday — after burning for two days. The cause of the incident is still being investigated. Shoreline impacts are not expected due to the distance offshore and the forecasted weather. For more information, see the Coast Guard’s most recent press release.


A stack of pollution boom on a dock.
A stack of pollution boom at a marina in Vermilion, Ohio, where a leak in a fuel line was reported. 

Here is the complete list of last month’s incidents, click on the links to find out more:

Incident Responses for August 2018

Posted Fri, 09/07/2018 - 12:54


Fri, 09/28/2018 - 19:38

I really enjoy your newsletter. Keep up the good work!

Kevin Smith
Deputy Fire Marshal (Retired)
Chino Valley Fire District, CA

Thank you, Kevin! We always appreciate the amazing support we receive from the response community. 

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