Fuel Removed From Grounded Tug

Monday, November 26 2012


(Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard)

After a week of harsh weather, responders were finally able to remove fuel from a tug that grounded off the Alaska Peninsula.

The Polar Wind was carrying about 20,000 gallons of diesel when it -- and the barge it was towing -- ended up on the rocks. About 6,000 gallons were lost after the accident, but there have been no reports of oiled animals.

According to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the weather quieted down Friday, and a salvage team was able to lighter almost all of the remaining fuel over the weekend. The team also recovered 1.5 million pounds of frozen seafood from the barge Unimak Trader, and they’ve sent those containers on to Unalaska.

Kerry Walsh works for Global Diving and Salvage, and he’s their point person for this incident. Walsh says that extreme weather has dictated their operations timeline since the grounding happened two weeks ago.

"Well, I know one night they were in a little cove, and the wind was blowing around them and gusting right in the vicinity of where they were anchored at 80 knots," says Walsh. "They’ve seen gusts out there to a hundred."

Now that the response team is wrapping up their oil spill mitigation efforts, they’re hoping the weather stays calm enough for them to start salvaging the Polar Wind and Unimak Trader. While the vessels are still upright, divers reported substantial damage to the barge.


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