Oil Tanker Aground in Alaskan Bay
February 3, 2006, 4:23 pm
Filed under: Environment

Chilly weather has created severe icing conditions in Cook Inlet, and the vessel broke free after being struck by an ice floe that appeared to cause the mooring line to break, according to an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation situation report….

…The effort to refloat the vessel also will be complicated by the huge tidal swings and strong currents of Cook Inlet, which ranks as one of Alaska’s most treacherous winter waterways….

… Most of the fuel aboard is a thick residual oil product with an asphaltlike consistency. Other fuels on board included bunker oil, gasoline and diesel…….Cook Inlet is a host to summer runs of salmon and a dwindling population of beluga whales. Federal officials have listed the belugas as “depleted” under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act….

Oil spills are difficult to clean up amid ice floes, and environmentalists have lobbied for years to have tugs alongside the vessels as they dock and take on fuel.