Coast Guard responds to oil spill from freighter near Venice, Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS — The Coast Guard and O’Brien’s Response Management are responding to oil which is leaking from the motor vessel Pac Alkaid, which is anchored 10 miles southeast of Southwest Pass near Venice, La.

The Pac Alkaid reported the discharge to the Coast Guard at approximately 2 a.m. Friday, when it was anchored five miles southeast of Southwest Pass. Winds and currents pushed the oil to the northwest yesterday, which caused a sheen to wash up against the rocks of the Southwest Pass jetty. The Coast Guard ordered the vessel to move further offshore at approximately 11 a.m. Friday in order to lessen the impact of the oil on the shoreline.

The initial discharge of an estimated 12,000 gallons of bunker oil was caused by a hole in the Pac Alkaid’s hull. The hole is approximately five centimeters in diameter, and lies five feet below the waterline. The hole penetrated the vessel’s starboard fuel tank, which has a capacity of nearly 120,000 gallons of bunker oil. The cause of the hole is currently unknown.

O’Brien’s Response Management hired the response vessel Louisiana Responder, a 220-foot vessel which is owned by the Marine Spill Recovery Corporation, to clean up the spill. The Louisiana Responder has been on scene since Friday, but oil recovery has been prevented by three-to-five foot waves and a lack of concentrated oil.

The Coast Guard has conducted four helicopter flights with observers who have photographed and assessed the spill since Friday. O’Brien’s Response Management hired commercial divers, who inspected the hole in the vessel’s hull this morning. The divers are currently awaiting parts which they will use to attempt to plug the hole. These parts are expected to arrive later this evening.

The Coast Guard and O’Brien’s Response Management have formed a Unified Command which is responding to this incident and will continue to monitor and assess the vessel’s condition, the temporary repairs, and the clean-up.

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