Coast Guard puts hold on fuel transfer operations in Whittier, Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Coast Guard Sector Anchorage personnel conducted an inspection on the Shoreside Petroleum Inc. mobile facility in Whittier today and required the facility to cease fuel transfer operations until a few deficiencies are corrected.

The inspection was an annual inspection conducted in the regular performance of the Coast Guard’s duties to ensure compliance by the petroleum industry with the regulations for transporting and transferring fuel. This facility has trucks that fuel vessels with a fuel capacity of 250 barrels or greater.

Petty Officers Colleen Parker, Michael Vinson and Alex Olbert from Sector Anchorage, inspected the facility trucks, response gear and documentation. They found that necessary documentation is not up to date, no response drill program is in place, and the facility lacks a response plan. Therefore, they are not in compliance with the Code of Federal Regulations governing fuel transfers (33 CFR Parts 154, 155, 156).

“The purpose of this requirement is pollution mitigation,” said Capt. Mark Hamilton, commander Sector Anchorage and Captain of the Port Western Alaska. “My concern has been that there is no direction for employees or local responders on how to handle a spill of any size by the mobile facility in Whittier should one occur.”

During the previous annual inspection the facility had no response plan. In response to the facility’s failure to develop a plan over the last 12 months Hamilton, as the Coast Guard Captain of the Port Western Alaska, determined it was appropriate to restrict the facility from conducting transfers until the deficiency is cleared.

This temporary hold on transfer operations may effect marine transportation. Shoreside Petroleum Inc. provides fuel to the Alaska Marine Highway System ferries that use Whittier as a terminal. The Coast Guard has notified AMHS officials of the situation. AMHS officials confirmed they were working on alternatives for fueling should it become necessary. Two ferries are scheduled to dock in Whittier on Thursday.

“We are working proactively with Shoreside Petroleum’s staff to correct these deficiencies and allow them to resume operations,” said Hamilton. “They are currently reaching out to their home office to adapt a response plan from their Seward location to fit Whittier.”

Shoreside Petroleum Inc. also operates a marine fueling facility in Whittier. This facility fuels smaller unregulated vessels and therefore this portion of their operation is not subject to the regulations for fuel transfers.

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