Crash spills gas: Boats collide in Cook Inlet

Posted: Thursday, May 28, 2009

An early morning marine collision in Cook Inlet that resulted in an unknown amount of unleaded gasoline leaking into the water sent personal from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Coast Guard scrambling.

"I got a call from the duty officer at 3 a.m.," said Gary Folley of ADEC, in regard to the incident, which took place at roughly 1 a.m. Wednesday, approximately 1 mile from the Tesoro KPL dock in Nikiski.

The 113-foot Pacific Challenger tug and the 262-foot, 48,000 barrel barge SCT 282 -- both owned by New Jersey-based K-Sea Transportation -- crashed into each other as a result of choppy seas.

"It occurred while the barge was leaving the KPL dock," Folley said.

The crew began inspecting the vessels, which was when a crack in the tank -- carrying roughly 70,000 gallons of gasoline -- was noticed.

"The crack was about 4- to 6-inches long, and just above the water line," Folley said.

Within 20 minutes, the crew transferred the gasoline into undamaged tanks on the barge, and a temporary epoxy patch was applied over the pierced area.

A Coast Guard flight over the spill area late Wednesday morning did not detect any signs of a sheen or gasoline in the water.

"They couldn't see any signs of the spill. Gasoline evaporates pretty fast, but also there probably wasn't much spilled," Folley said.

The tug and the barge headed to Homer, where they were scheduled to undergo a detailed accident investigation by the Coast Guard and the state. Measurements also will be taken to determine the amount of gas that did spill.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at

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