Costs of cleanup from grounded vessel tops $250,000

Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The cost of cleaning up the wreck of the 150-foot Genei Maru is at $250,000 and rising.

A Japanese company owns the vessel that suddenly appeared on the rocks at Afognak Island earlier this month after catching fire in May and disappearing in the North Pacific for months. But the cleanup money right now is coming out of the National Pollution Funds Center, a section of Superfund, said Marsha Delaney, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Coast Guard based in Kodiak.

The agencies involved are keeping track of spending so they can bill the vessel's owner, KK Yamatsu Yachi Shoten, Delaney said.

''Everything is being accounted for, every ink pen, every person, every flight,'' Delaney said. The Coast Guard doesn't anticipate any problems recovering the costs, she said.

In late May, the Genei Maru caught fire in the mid-North Pacific about halfway between the United States and Japan.

The crew escaped onto sister ships in the area, according to a report from Lloyd's Information Casualty Report in London. The report described the boat as initially being under tow to Japan, but the vessel owner later told the Coast Guard the boat sank shortly after catching fire.

But the vessel didn't sink. Mariners periodically spotted the Genei Maru. It was last seen in mid-October, about 500 miles from Prince William Sound.

Last weekend, the beaten vessel was discovered hard aground at rocky Cape Kazakof on Afognak Island. The ship emitted a mile-long oily sheen. Responders feared the buildup of potentially hazardous gases from tons of decaying squid trapped unrefrigerated in the holds.

The sheen has diminished, said Leslie Pearson with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

And nobody has found the squid. Some refrigerated holds are flooded. To get to them and open the doors, salvage crews would have to go through water.

''It's just not worth the risk,'' Pearson said.

Coast Guard and DEC estimates put the amount of diesel fuel taken off the vessel at about 7,500 gallons.

Crowley Maritime Services and Foss Environmental Services crews contracted by the government were pumping oil by hose from the Genei Maru's holding tank.

Authorities estimate that 10,000 gallons to 12,000 gallons of diesel remains on board, Pearson said. An original estimate of 25,000 gallons in the tanks was based on readings in log books when the boat caught fire.

Officials are still trying to determine what to do with the boat. The final decision will include state and federal agencies and the vessel's owner, Delaney said.

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