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Kulluk Tow Incident SITREP #: 7 Ocean Bay/Partition Cove, Kodiak Island


Division of Spill Prevention and Response
Prevention and Emergency Response Program



Kulluk Tow Incident


Ocean Bay/Partition Cove, Kodiak Island

SPILL #: 12249936201

TIME/DATE OF DISTRIBUTION: 2 a.m., January 5, 2013

POTENTIAL RESPONSIBLE PARTY (PRP): Shell Exploration and Production Company

INCIDENT LOCATION: The conical drilling unit (CDU) Kulluk grounded at a location between the north end of Ocean Bay and Partition Cove on Sitkalidak Island. The location of the grounded vessel is Lat 57⁰ 5' 28.099N, Long 153⁰ 6' 23.546W.

TIME/DATE OF SPILL: The CDU Kulluk grounded at 8:48 p.m., December 31. As of January 4, the Kulluk is upright and is not showing any signs of a breach of the hull or sheen. The tug Aiviq and the tug Alert lost their tow of the CDU Kulluk on December 31. The M/V Aiviq lost its tow shortly after 4:30 p.m. While the tug Alert was attempting to hold the Kulluk in place an engine warning system alerted crew of over taxing the engine and required the Alert to temporarily reduce power on the engine, which impacted the towing operation. The towline was released at approximately 8:10 p.m. due to safety concerns. The CDU Kulluk subsequently drifted and went aground at the above location.

HOW/WHEN SPILL WAS DISCOVERED: At the time of the grounding, the CDU Kulluk was currently carrying 143,000 gallons of ultra low sulfur diesel fuel and 12,000 gallons of other petroleum products.

TYPE/AMOUNT OF PRODUCT SPILLED: The salvage assessment crew reported no sheen during the assessment operations on January 4.

CAUSE OF SPILL: The CDU Kulluk went aground after the towlines between the vessel and the two tow vessels parted.

SOURCE CONTROL: Unknown at this time.

RESPONSE ACTION: The Unified Command continues to mobilize spill response and salvage equipment. Spill response plans have been developed for the specific areas near the Kulluk and the plan is being updated daily based on weather and operations. The January 3 Kulluk assessment team inspected all fuel tanks and voids; the three upper decks and the lower storage deck was reported to have water damage. The fuel tanks which are located at the five meter level were found to be intact with no fuel leakage detected. During the assessment by the salvage crew members, seawater was discovered in the 3S‐7C internal void compartment. The compromise does not pose a threat to the stability of the vessel. Additional salvage and vessel assessment operations and an over flight with three biologists, two from LGL Alaska Research Associates Inc and one from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, was conducted to survey any wildlife in the area. The USCG, ADEC and Shell participated in a presentation to the Kodiak Borough Assembly on January 3. Several questions from the assembly members were answered. Daily teleconferences are also being held with local, tribal, borough representatives, and other concerned parties. The first daily teleconference for stakeholders outside of Old Harbor occurred Friday January 4. Over a dozen organizations were represented at this meeting.

RESOURCES AFFECTED: The shorelines of Partition Cove on Sitkalidak Island are primarily comprised of mixed sand and gravel beaches. Several salmon‐bearing streams are also in the general area. The shorelines of Ocean Bay are primarily comprised of exposed tidal flats with salt marsh lagoon at the mouth of a large salmon‐bearing stream in the middle of the bay. Spill protection plans exist to protect those areas. Harbor seal concentrations are present in MacDonald Lagoon, also known as Fox Lagoon. Overwintering waterfowl, shorebirds, other bird species may be present. Steller’s eiders are potentially present in the nearshore waters. Steller’s eiders are an Endangered Species Act (ESA)‐listed species. Sitkalidak Island is within designated critical habitat for the Steller sea lion which may be present in the area. Sitkalidak Island is within designated critical habitat for the ESA‐listed Southwest sea otter population which may be present in the area.
Sea lions were spotted in the water in the vicinity of the Kulluk and mountain goats were spotted on the adjacent uplands by the Kulluk assessment team.

FUTURE PLANS AND RECOMMENDATIONS: The Unified Command is managing the salvage and potential spill response phase of the response. Spill responders and equipment are currently mobilized and will implement spill response operations as soon as weather permits, if necessary. The Unified Command has approved two plans, the Towing to Potential Place of Refuge plan and the Potential Place of Refuge plan. The salvage plan is being developed to recover the vessel as appropriate based on reports from the assessment team. The implementation of the plan will begin as soon as all equipment, personnel, weather and conditions of the Kulluk meet operational expectations.

WEATHER: Today: winds south/southeast 8 to 15 knots with gusts 20 knots increasing this evening with 18 to 25 knots with gusts to 35 knots. Seas 6’ to 9’ occasionally with 12' waves and increasing to 7’ to 10’ with occasionally 18’. Tomorrow: winds east 25 to 35 knots with gusts to 42 knots. Seas 10' ‐ 13' with occasional 18' waves.

Incident Commander: Sean Churchfield, Shell
SOSC: Steve Russell, ADEC
FOSC: Paul Mehler, USCG Sector Anchorage
LOSC: Bud Cassidy, Kodiak Island Borough


FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION CONTACT: Shannon Miller, Public Information Officer, (907) 269‐7684 or Ty Keltner, Public Information Officer, ADEC (907) 388‐8822. To contact the Joint Information Center, please call (907) 433‐3417, or visit the following website for additional information:
http://dec.alaska.gov/spar/aiviq Or https://www.piersystem.com/go/site/5507/

A community information line has been established for the public, the number is:
(907)771‐7910 within Anchorage or (866)771‐7910 outside of Anchorage.

Location of the Grounded Vessel

Emergency Towing System deployment
(Photo ADEC, 2011)