Tag Archives: Spill

Second Major California Beach to Reopen after May Oil Spill


The second of two major California beaches that were closed after a ruptured pipeline spewed some 2,400 barrels of crude oil will be reopened next week, state parks officials said on Friday.

Refugio State Beach, about 20 miles (32 km) west of Santa Barbara, was closed along with nearby El Capitan State Beach after they were fouled when an underground pipeline that runs along the coastal highway burst on May 19.

“We’re obviously excited to get the park open again,” said Eric Hjelstrom, California’s state park superintendent. El Capitan State Beach was reopened on June 26.

Hjelstrom said officials had completed a site assessment of Refugio State Beach and had determined that it was safe for members of the public to use again.

Following the spill, federal inspectors determined that the section of pipeline owned by Texas-based Plains All American Pipeline that ruptured had been badly corroded and was degraded to 1/16th of an inch (1.6 mm).

The spill dumped as much as 2,400 barrels (101,000 gallons or 382,000 liters) of crude onto a pristine stretch of the Santa Barbara coastline and into the Pacific, leaving slicks that stretched over nine miles (14 km) along the coast and closing the two state beaches.

The spill zone lies at the edge of a national marine sanctuary and state-designated underwater preserve teeming with whales, dolphins, sea lions, some 60 species of sea birds and more than 500 species of fish.

The surrounding waters are shared by nearly two dozen offshore oil platforms.

Nearly 250 petroleum-stained sea birds have been recovered dead and alive since the spill, along with over 260 marine mammals suspected of being spill casualties, according to a running tally kept by wildlife officials.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Eric Beech)

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Jury Weighing Question of Whether BP Exec Lied About 2010 Oil Spill

Azeri SOCAR’s Oil Shipments via Russia Up 40 pct

Azerbaijan’s SOCAR shipped 593,449 tonnes of oil via Russia in the first five months of 2015, up from 423,644 tonnes in the same period last year, the state energy company said on Friday.

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Sea Urchin Haven Disturbed by Oil Spill


Stephanie Mutz makes a living plucking sea urchins from the Santa Barbara coast and selling the prickly treasure to upscale restaurants in Southern California.

Now, she needs new hunting grounds.

The coast, thought to be one of the world’s best places for harvesting sea urchins, suffered its worst oil spill in 46 years this week, forcing authorities to ban fishing in an area 23 miles (37 km) long by seven miles (11 km) wide.

“That was one of my predominant fishing spots, so I just have to think of a Plan B,” said Mutz, who supplies restaurants from Santa Barbara to Orange County, including the Michelin-starred Providence in Los Angeles.

It is unclear the extent of damage to the seafood industry from the leak of up to 2,500 barrels of crude oil from a ruptured pipeline into the Pacific Ocean.

But Tuesday’s spill raised concerns about the vulnerability of the marine life, a prized source for chefs keen to serve local catch.

“You don’t want to see anything happen to any part of the California coastline,” said Michael Cimarusti, chef-owner of Providence, considered one of the country’s best seafood restaurants. “It’s an important watershed up there.”

At sister restaurant Connie and Ted’s, which features Santa Barbara seafood, chef Sam Baxter said the fishing season, which began in May, could slacken during oil clean-up.

“It’s hard to know how long it is going to be out there,” he said.

In addition to sea urchins, often called by their Japanese name “uni”, Santa Barbara supplies lobsters and crabs. The famous Santa Barbara Spot Prawns, however, are often found along other parts of the coast.

Five crab boats could not access traps laid in the area and lost some 500 lbs (225 kg) of crab each, said Brian Colgate, owner of Santa Barbara Fish Market.

On Thursday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife expanded the fishing ban from one mile offshore to seven. If choppy waves and gusty winds carry the oil out, the no-go zone could expand.

David Lentz, chef-owner at the seafood-centric Hungry Cat in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, worries about “super detrimental” effects for fishermen.

“I don’t think it’s 100 percent clear how bad it is,” Lentz said. “It’s really early.”

Mutz wasn’t taking any chances. She sent a message to chefs assuring them she would harvest far from the oil and headed to the Channel Islands, 30 miles (48 km) away, to get her urchins. 

(By Daina Beth Solomon Editing by Mary Milliken and Ken Wills)


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Gulf of Finland Collision Related Spill Risk to Quadruple in the Future

 A single oil spill can release 30,000 tonnes of oil into the ocean if two vessels collide. In grounding the high weight can lead to oil disaster, in the Baltic Sea up to 120,000 tonnes. This estimate does not include the new giant tankers, says a press release from Helsingin yliopisto (University of Helsinki).

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BP, Anadarko Fail to Win Review of Gulf Spill Fines


BP Plc and Anadarko Petroleum Corp narrowly failed to persuade a U.S appeals court to reconsider its 2014 ruling that they could face civil fines under federal pollution laws over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

By a 7-6 vote, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals let stand a three-judge panel’s decision to uphold a 2012 ruling from U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans, in which he said the companies could face Clean Water Act penalties.

Barbier is scheduled on Jan. 20 to begin a non-jury trial to determine pollution fines. BP is appealing his Sept. 4 ruling that it was grossly negligent in causing the spill, exposing the London-based company to roughly $18 billion of potential fines.

BP and Anadarko had owned a respective 65 percent and 25 percent of the Macondo well, which blew out following the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

They said they should not face fines because the discharge that culminated in the largest U.S. offshore oil spill was the result of a broken riser under the control of Transocean Ltd , which owned the rig.

The three-judge panel ruled against BP and Anadarko last June 4, and issued a separate ruling five months later that the companies said caused confusion, further justifying a rehearing.

An outside spokeswoman for BP declined to comment. Anadarko spokesman John Christiansen also declined to comment.

Writing for the dissenting judges, Circuit Judge Edith Brown Clement said on Friday the panel misinterpreted the Clean Water Act, and misapplied its own standard in assessing what happened.

She said denial of a rehearing “ensures that our precedent concerning liability for oil spills under the Clean Water Act remains unclear.”

The case is In re: Deepwater Horizon, 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 12-30883. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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