Barge carrying diesel fuel goes aground off the coast of Nain
|October 10, 2007 - Coast Guard photos of the barge McNally Olympic
grounded on the Harp Peninsula, northern Labrador. Click to enlarge.
|October 11, 2007. Click to enlarge.
The bow and stern sections are all that is visible of a fuel barge that ran aground in the Harp Peninsula,
just outside the Hebron Fiord. Early this week the vessel’s towline snapped in high seas
while she was being escorted by tugboat to Sorel, Q.C
JAMIE TARRANT 3:04 PM on 16/10/07
The best plan of action still has to be decided for a barge lodged in the Harp Peninsula, just outside the Hebron Fiord off the coast of Nain.
Last Monday, a barge belonging to Hamilton-based McNally Olympic broke free from its towline carrying 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel, and 500 gallons of waste oil.
The barge was being towed to Sorel, QC, but 15 metre seas and winds clocking 45 to 50 knots drifted the vessel southeast until it went aground. As of press time, all the Canadian Coast Guard could do was wait until the weather calmed to assess exactly how much damage has been done.
"The ship is 139 feet long, 56 feet wide weighing 627 tonnes," said Department of Fisheries and Oceans spokesperson Sam Whiffen. "The Coast Guard ship the Hendry Larson arrived in the area Tuesday evening. There are two environmental response officers attempting to carry out an assessment in the area."
This process has not been easy. With only bow and stern sections visible the rolling wave surges have made things difficult.
Larry Crann, environmental response officer for the Canadian Coast Guard has been watching the situation closely.
"It is hard to tell how much pollution or damage has been done because everything is covered in white water and heavy sea. You can see the small deck crane and some of the other parts of the barge every now and then when the sea breaks. That is pretty much what we are seeing. You can't get a really detailed observation about the condition of the barge."
The Harp Peninsula lies in the shadow of the Hebron Fiord, which is filled with crevices. One of the two tugs the barge was carrying got stuck in one of the crevices when it was being removed from the barges deck. Shortly after the Henry Larson arrived on the scene it had to seek refuge and anchor inside Saglek Bay. The tugboat Jerry Newburry, which was originally towing the barge, sheltered inside the Hebron Fiord.
The Canadian Coast Guard surveyed the area by helicopter. There was some debris in the water from the containers located on deck. So far though, there are no visible signs of pollution. Communication has also been made between the Canadian Coast Guard and McNally Olympic who are in the process of hiring a salvage contractor, which will be a part of their contingency plan to deal with the incident. If there is pollution equipment will be used to contain the fuel. Another option would be pumping the fuel out of the tanks and transferring it to another ship. If conditions make it feasible to remove the barge from the sea bottom, this option will be employed as well.
Mr. Crann who has extensive knowledge about accidents at sea, has watched ships break up and sink off areas of Conception Bay and St. Pierre over the years. Coming up with the safest and logical plan is not always easy.
"When you look at any pollution incident, it poses different challenges. You can only work within the conditions of your environment. As you know in Newfoundland and Labrador it is a pretty harsh marine environment. There are always safety issues whether we are dealing with a long liner, a fishing vessel, or whatever the case may be. We have to work safely to respond to the incident and gather the information to make a detailed and step-by-step and informed decision on how to respond."
Wrecked barge may have leaked thousands of litres of fuel
Last Updated: Friday, October 12, 2007 | 2:03 PM NT source: CBC News
The fuel on board a barge that ran aground in a remote part of northern Labrador has possibly been flushed out to sea, according to the federal Fisheries and Oceans Department.
Terry Harvey, environmental response officer with the Canadian Coast Guard, said Friday the construction barge McNally Olympic appeared to be firmly embedded on the rocks of the Harp Peninsula, about 10 kilometres southwest of Hebron.
It could be some time until divers can get to and assess a barge that crashed on the Labrador shore, a Coast Guard officer said.
(Canadian Coast Guard)
It's possible the bottom of the vessel has been ripped out, Havey said, as heavy seas have pounded the barge since it ran aground.
However, Harvey said there is no way to know for sure what type of damage the barge has sustained, or if any fuel has leaked, until officials can examine the vessel up-close.
The barge was being towed from the Arctic to a port in Québec when its towline snapped in heavy weather on Monday. That happened near the northern tip of Labrador, causing the barge to drift south to the Hebron Fjord area.
Once the boat ran aground, the stormy weather might have been a blessing in disguise, Harvey said.
"There's like a flushing action. There's huge volumes of water that flush in and flush out, and because of the agitation, that's quickly dispersed in the water columns," Harvey said of any possible leaking fuel. "Some of it actually vaporizes and goes into the air, and usually when you see that kind of thing you don't see any sheen on the water."
The McNally Olympic was carrying about 90,000 litres of diesel and about 2,500 litres of waste oil.
If the barge had gone aground in a sheltered area, the threat of damage from pollution would have been worse because any leaked fuel would not dissipate as easily, Harvey said.
The Coast Guard and the barge's owner are trying to figure out what to do with the barge, but the high winds and waves are making it unsafe to go on board and to verify whether there has been a fuel leak.
"There is a high-energy environment well off-shore that is causing that swell, and as that swell approaches land where that barge is impaled on rock, the waves quickly build and there's a constant 15- to 20-foot swell pounding on that barge," Harvey said.
Harvey couldn't say how much of an environmental impact any leaking fuel would have. But he said the owners are responsible for any pollution and they plan to survey the area with divers. However, because of the harsh weather and the advance of the ice season, that survey may not happen until spring.