USCG, Others Form Unified Command for Container Leak Response in Alaska
The U.S. Coast Guard, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, City of Valdez, and Gallagher Marine Services, LLC formally established a Unified Command on Wednesday in response to container oil leaks aboard the cargo ship BBC Arizona.
The Unified Command structure brings together representatives of all major organizations involved in an incident in order to coordinate an effective response while at the same time carrying out their own jurisdictional responsibilities. Under the Unified Command, various governmental agencies and non-governmental responders may blend together throughout the operation to create an integrated response team.
“Response to the ship’s container leaks has been a close collaboration between ADEC, the Port of Valdez, BBC Arizona representatives, and the Coast Guard since the start of the incident,” said Lt. Roberto Trevino, Federal On-scene Coordinator Representative. “Establishing a Unified Command allows those involved to build on established partnerships and provides a formal forum for all involved to make consensus, collaborative response decisions.”
On Wednesday, Emerald Services Inc. cleaned and decontaminated the area around the ship’s I-beam cargo in preparation to cut welded brackets holding the beams to the deck. Once the welds are cut, the I-beams will be thoroughly cleaned by Emerald Services Inc. and individually inspected by the Coast Guard prior to removing them from the ship. I-beams and bridge parts stored below deck are the only cargo being offloaded in Valdez. Sorbent pads on deck and boom in the water remain in place.
Personnel from the Coast Guard Pacific Area Strike Team arrived in Valdez Tuesday evening to augment Valdez based personnel during oversight and monitoring of the response. Strike Team members are trained and equipped to field test oil and determine the presence of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
The BBC Arizona’s owner contracted Emerald Services Inc. and Alaska Chadux to actively manage the spill area and mitigate environmental damage. Gallagher Marine Services, LLC, the designated Qualified Individual under the ship’s Vessel Response Plan, arrived in Valdez Tuesday and will serve as the ship’s representative within the unified command.
The U.S. Coast Guard continues to monitor the cargo ship BBC Arizona at the Valdez Container Terminal following discovery of oil leaking from multiple containers onboard the ship on Friday.
Emerald Services Inc. deployed boom in the water around the ship as a precautionary measure, and response crews, utilizing a vacuum truck, have recovered approximately 3,000 gallons of oily water accumulated on the ship’s deck as of Tuesday afternoon.
Additionally, Emerald Services Inc. submitted lab analysis results to the Coast Guard from two oil samples taken from the ship over the weekend. Lab results indicate no presence of polychlorinated biphenlys (PCBs), a hazardous substance sometimes associated with transformer oil.
Emerald Services Inc. estimates 16 of the ship’s containers hold transformer oil packaged in flexible, plastic tank bladders. Based on the dimensions of two inspected containers, a single bladder could hold an estimated 6,000 gallons of product. All containers will be inspected and oil samples taken from leaking containers prior to commencing oil clean-up operations.
“Positively identifying which containers are leaking and then understanding the properties and hazards of the oil cargo in each container must occur before clean-up efforts can begin,” said Cmdr. Benjamin Hawkins, Captain of the Port, Prince William Sound. “Utilizing a phased approach to clean-up, remediation, and decontamination is crucial to the safety of responders and the maritime environment.”
Press Release, June 6, 2013; Image: