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Kulluk Tow Incident SITREP No. 5


Division of Spill Prevention and Response
Prevention and Emergency Response Program


Kulluk Tow Incident


SPILL #: 12249936201

TIME/DATE OF DISTRIBUTION: 6:30 p.m., January 2, 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. No evidence of an oil spill was observed during over flights conducted on January 1 and 2. The Kulluk is upright and is not showing any signs of a breach of the hull. 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: Over flights conducted on January 1 and 2 reported no visible signs of pollution or debris in the area of the grounding.

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. The spill response contingency plan has been modified for the specific areas near the Kulluk and the plan is being updated daily. As a precaution, staging areas have been established in Anchorage, Kodiak and Seward. Spill responders remain mobilized and will be deployed as soon as conditions allow if necessary. There are currently over 600 people taking part in the response effort.
An assessment team was transported by helicopter to the Kulluk to evaluate the condition of the vessel and deliver one emergency towing system (ETS). A second ETS will be delivered when weather conditions improve.
The ETS is a pre-staged package of equipment that may be deployed in the event a disabled vessel requires assistance in towing to a place of refuge. The assessment team has returned to Kodiak and will report on the results of their assessment.

RESOURCES AFFECTED: The shorelines of Partition Cove on Sitkalidak Island are primarily comprised of mixed sand and gravel beaches. Several anadromous streams are also in the general area. There have been two locations identified where measures can be taken to protect two known salmon streams in the immediate area. Harbor seal concentrations are present in MacDonald 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. Partition Cove is within designated critical habitat for the ESA-listed Southwest sea otter population. Steller sea lions may be present in the area. Partition Cove is within designated critical habitat for the Steller sea lion.
Sea lions were spotted in the water in the vicinity of the Kulluk and goats were spotted on the adjacent uplands by the Kulluk assessment team.

FUTURE PLANS AND RECOMMENDATIONS: The Unified Command is now managing the salvage and potential spill response phase. Spill responders and equipment are currently mobilized and will implement spill response operations as soon as weather permits, if necessary. The salvage plan is being developed for implementation as soon as all equipment, personnel, weather and conditions of the Kulluk meet operational expectations.

WEATHER: Currently, SE winds 28 to 32 knots with gusts to 42 knots; seas 11 to 13 feet, with occasional wave heights of 18 feet. Tomorrow morning SE winds 10 to 17 knots, gusting to 22 knots, seas 6 – 9 feet, occasional wave heights of 12 feet.

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/

Location of the Grounded Vessel