Unified Command Responding to Oil Spill at Midway Atoll

HONOLULU – The U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Pacific Environmental Company are aggressively responding to an oil spill within the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. The spill occurred at approximately 8:30 p.m. last night when a Japanese fishing vessel, the Kotobuki Maru No. 38, suffered damage to a fuel oil tank while delivering a crew member to Midway for medical evacuation.

The vessel was able to proceed to a pier within Midway’s inner harbor. Refuge staff immediately responded and boomed off the vessel. The cause of the damage to the fuel oil tank is under investigation. As much as 2,640 gallons of marine diesel could have been spilled; another 34,320 gallons remain on board the vessel. No one was injured in the incident.

A C-130 Hercules aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point will be flying to Midway Atoll this evening to bring Coast Guard and contract personnel to assist with clean up, damage assessment, and repair of the vessel.

The injured fishing vessel crew member was offloaded at Midway last night and transported to Honolulu on a Coast Guard C-130. He was transferred to Kuakini Hospital this morning.

In accordance with its Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Plan, Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge maintains a significant quantity of oil spill cleanup materials and equipment on Sand Island. Only a light sheen was reported on the water within the boom this morning.

The location of the incident is within both the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument and Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge was established in 1988 and the Monument in 2006 to protect the unique natural and historic resources of the area. Numerous threatened and endangered species are found at Midway, including Hawaiian monk seals and sea turtles. The atoll also supports the world’s largest nesting populations of Laysan and black-footed albatrosses, totaling more than a million birds. Seventeen volunteers are currently on the atoll to count nesting albatross and will join the Refuge staff and the NOAA monk seal team in monitoring for oiled wildlife.

Source: USCG D14 Office of Public Affairs

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