Saturday, February 04, 2006


Cook Inlet Tanker Grounded

I know I have been posting goals and progress on the road to the apex but sometimes a story will come along that I feel might be interesting. Several of you have been to my cabin in Nikiski and remember you make the turn to the cabin right by the Agrium fertilizer plant shown in the photo to the left.

A few days ago an oil taker being loaded with unleaded fuel from the Tesoro refinery broke loose from it's moorings and drifted north up Cook Inlet, grounding on the beach 200 yards away before any action could be taken.

I am constantly amazed by the power of nature and our puny attempts to combat it's effects. The 600 foot double hulled tanker Seabulk Pride was attached to the dock with no less than 16 mooring lines including 12 steel cables that were 1.5 inches in diameter with a minimum breaking strength of 178,000 pounds each. Due to the effects of the 24 foot 4.5 knot tide and massive ice floes, the vessel was peeled from its mooring, all 16 mooring lines alledgedly breaking almost simultaneously.

Only about 75 gallons of fuel spilled into Cook Inlet and another high tide combined with nudges from 3 tug boats brought down from the port of Anchorage successfully floated the tanker free early Friday morning. The tanker was approximately half full and is proceeding down to Homer so a dive team can give it a full inspection.

On a related note, the Exxon Valdez oil spill punitive damage award is back in the courts beginning January 26, with a fairly quick decision expected on whether to drop the case entirely, pay out the 4.5 billion plus interest, or appeal to the Supreme Court. With my portion of the damages roughly equivalent to the tuition money I need for 4 years of pharmacy school I am following the progress with interest.

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