Monday, September 6, 2010

Fuel tanker runs aground in Canadian Arctic

A fuel tanker loaded with 9 million liters (2.4 million gallons) of diesel fuel has run aground in Canada's Far North but none of the fuel has spilled and the crew unharmed, the Canadian Coast Guard confirmed on Thursday.

The 117 meter (384 foot) vessel, called the Nanny, got hung up on a sand bar
in the area near Simpson Strait, Nunavut on Wednesday, said Larry Trigatti, superintendent of environmental response in the Canadian Coast Guard's central and Arctic region. It was carrying supplies to Northern communities.

"There's no pollution. We've had two overflights of the area," Trigatti said. "The vessel has not reported any damage. There is no egress of water into the vessel and the crew is safe."

Transport Canada said it is aware of the grounding and will follow up
with the ship's owner, Saint-John-based Coastal Shipping Limited, to make sure it is complying with the Canada Shipping Act and the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act.

"Transport Canada has not received any reports of damage to the tanker or leakage of fuel from the vessel," spokeswoman Melanie Orlowski said in an e-mailed statement.

"The Department will also monitor salvage-related activities to ensure safety and any potential environmental issues are addressed," she went on to say. Should the company fail to comply with any of the rules, Transport Canada said it will take action.

Authorities and the ship's owner Woodward's Oil would attempt to float it off the sandbar. The plan is to offload or
move some of the cargo to get the vessel back afloat.

Trigatti said the Coast Guard has a ship (right) in the area and was working with Transport Canada and the company to free the grounded tanker. There are no plans to evacuate the crew.

This is the second time in the past month that a Woodward group transport has run aground in the same general area. The Woodward Group of Companies, which is under contract from the Nunavut government to deliver bulk fuel shipments to the territory's remote communities.

The first tanker had finished unloading a shipment of gasoline to the
community on Sunday, August 8, when the vessel drifted and became grounded, tipping at an angle in low tide. No oil or gas was spilled and the ship was re-floated successfully when the tide came back in.

With the acceleration of Arctic ice melt, interest in the region has soared. Shrinking ice has opened up sea navigation, and could give oil rigs improved access to the sea floor.

Environmentalists, Inuit groups in Canada and political factions in the concerned countries have repeatedly expressed concern over the risks of ecological disaster caused by the sinking a tanker and exploitation of the area for its natural resources.

Reuters,"Fuel tanker runs aground in Canadian Arctic", accessed September 3, 2010
The Globe and Mail, "Fuel tanker runs aground in Northwest Passage", accessed September 3, 2010
Space Daily, "Fuel tanker runs aground in Canadian Arctic: coast guard", accessed September 3, 2010
CBC News, "Arctic fuel spill fears raised in Pangnirtung", accessed September 3, 2010

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