Incident Responses for June 2019

Posted Fri, 07/12/2019 - 13:22

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.

Two people on a boat looking at a whale carcass with seagulls on it.
Photo showing an 80-foot blue whale carcass within the Port of Long Beach, California. Image credit: National Marine Fisheries Service.

This month OR&R responded to 17 incidents, including oil discharges, sunken vessels, and a blue whale carcass.  

Here are some of June’s notable incidents:

Deceased Blue Whale Found Near Long Beach, California

On June 3, the National Marine Fisheries Service stranding coordinator for California contacted OR&R to report an 80-foot whale carcass found within the Port of Long Beach. The carcass was later towed offshore using OR&R’s drift estimate to aid in determining how far offshore to tow the whale to avoid it returning to shore. 

This incident is one of a growing number of whale deaths this year. The majority of the carcasses adrift or washed on shore have been gray whales (read more in this recent blog) but reported blue whale carcasses have also increased. 

Oil Sheen Reported Near Point Sur, California

On June 22, crew aboard the NOAA ship R/V Bell M Shimada observed a sheen 25 nautical miles south of Point Sur, California. The Shimada forwarded photos and the location to OR&R and the U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Francisco. 

The Coast Guard requested trajectory support to determine if the sheen might be related to a recent marine pollution surveillance report (MPSR) issued by the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service due to a satellite anomaly. OR&R later identified two oil seeps as the likely source for the sheen. 

13,000 Gallons of Sulfuric Acid Released in Train Derailment Near US-Canadian Border

On June 28, a train derailed in a tunnel connecting Port Huron, Michigan and Sarnia, Ontario in Canada. An initial volume of 25 to 50 gallons of sulfuric was reportedly released. It was later reported that the entire rail car of 13,000 gallons of 93.71 sulfuric acid was released inside the tunnel. 

The U.S. Coast Guard requested a trajectory for the sulfuric acid, as well as reactivity information about the hazards of sulfuric acid and the options for cleanup. 

Of the 140 cars on the train, 46 cars and one locomotive were derailed inside the tunnel. The train was also carrying 3,000 gallons of diesel at the time of the incident, but no fuel release was reported. The cause of the derailment remains unknown. 

Barge Grounded in Puget Sound at Seattle Pier

On June 26, the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound contacted OR&R to request a trajectory and a report on the resources at risk in the area for a potential oil release from a barge that grounded on Harbor Island in Seattle. 

The barge was carrying an estimated 3,000,000 gallons of oil at the time that it grounded in its berth at Pier 23 on Harbor Island. The barge had been tied up at the pier when it struck the bottom during low tide. The Coast Guard requested information for a potential release, but no spill was reported. 

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

Incident Responses for June 2019

Posted Fri, 07/12/2019 - 13:22

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