Grounded Vessel Spills Diesel Fuel in Alaska Harbor

September 13, 2011

A towing vessel went aground on rocks near Nome’s harbor, sending up to 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilling into the ocean, officials said.

The boat was pulling a barge when its tow line hit the propeller and disabled it, and the vessel drifted into channel rocks, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said Sunday.

The rocks ripped a 40-foot gash in the vessel’s side and ruptured a fuel tank in Saturday’s accident, releasing 800-1,000 gallons of diesel into the water, the department’s on-scene coordinator Ashley Anderson said.

The department said the fuel could wash up on parts of Nome’s harbor, beaches and a nearby river. It said there had been no sign of any injury to wildlife.

Strong winds and waves Sunday prevented crews from assessing any possible damage, Anderson told The Associated Press.

But she expects “a lot of it to be carried out to sea” and dispersed because of the ocean conditions, including five-foot waves at the time of the accident.

“Once the water has died down, we’ll be able to get a better assessment,” she says.

The grounded boat was pulled off the rocks, brought into Nome’s harbor, and its remaining diesel fuel removed.

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