Coast Guard: 1,100 Gallons of Diesel Spilled from ‘Samson Mariner’ in Alaska

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February 17, 2017

The tug Samson Mariner alongside the cargo barge St. Elias anchored in Ward Cove, Alaska. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

The U.S. Coast Guard and other federal and local agencies are continuing to respond to the tugboat Samson Mariner that ran aground and spilled fuel while towing a barge in the vicinity of Rosa Reef in north Tongass Narrows, Alaska, Wednesday evening.

Approximately 1,100 gallons of diesel spilled from the tug prior to being patched by Alaska Commercial Divers Wednesday night, the Coast Guard said Friday.

The Samson Mariner has since been refloated and is anchored in Ward Cove alongside the barge it was towing.

A Coast Guard on Friday was conducted to determine the extent of any possible sheen or environmental impacts. It said a sheen has been reported in the area and Southeast Alaska Petroleum Response Organization (SEAPRO) has been tasked with fuel containment and recovery using boom and absorbent pads.

The Coast Guard is working in partnership with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, SEAPRO, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Alaska Commercial Divers, on the response.

“We are working closely with our partner agencies to recover as much of the spilled product as possible,” said Capt. Shannan Greene, Coast Guard Sector Juneau commander. “When spilled, this type of diesel spreads quickly into thin films forming patches of rainbow and silver sheens. We expect the sheen to break up within the next 12 to 24 hours, with scattered sheens potentially still visible under the low wind conditions forecast for tomorrow. Although not expected to impact sensitive areas or wildlife, we routinely collaborate with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to mitigate these risks.”

Weather on scene on Friday was reported to be 14 mile per hour winds and calm seas.

The 90-foot tugboat Samson Mariner was towing a cargo barge when it ran aground Wednesday night and reported a minor hull breach. The crew aboard was able to plug the hull, but not before some fuel leaked into the environment.

The Samson Mariner was reported to have 30,000 gallons of fuel on board and the barge has 40,000 gallons of diesel. The barge did not sustain any damage and has been secured.

The Samson Mariner was towing the dry cargo barge St. Elias as part of  Samson Tug and Barge’s regular service from Seattle to Western Alaska.

Tongass Narrows is located northwest of Ketchikan and is part of Southeast Alaska’s sheltered Inside Passage.

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