Friday, January 05, 2007

No pollution from oil spill found

Experts from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, the Fish and
Wildlife Service and the Coast Guard walked the perimeter of the Midway
Islands yesterday and found no pollution or soiled animals following a small
oil spill, the Coast Guard said.

"Diesel is a very thin oil. What was spilled quickly burned away," said
Coast Guard spokesman Lt. John Titchen, adding that there were no signs of
pollution in the water.

Officials originally estimated that about 2,600 gallons of fuel spilled from
the Japanese long-line fishing vessel Kotobuki Maru No. 38 on Thursday
evening while the ship was attempting to deliver an injured crew member to
Midway Atoll.

The owner of the vessel, Kabushiki Kaisha Fujiei Shoten, has hired ECM
Maritime Services, a subsidiary of Pacific Environmental Company, to assist
with the cleanup as required by federal law, Titchen said.

A containment boom was placed around the vessel at the pier at Midway Harbor
while crews begin repairs to the hull. Divers yesterday found the hull
sustained three 3-inch holes after apparently hitting an obstruction near
the entrance to the channel, a Coast Guard news release said.

The amount of fuel remaining in the vessel was undetermined and the cause of
the leak was still under investigation.

"That's our main order of business right now, that while they're making
repairs to the boat that there's no potential threat to the environment,"
Titchen said.

The vessel's owners are working with the Fish and Wildlife Service and Coast
Guard to determine when the vessel will be safe to depart from Midway.

The spill occurred in the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and the
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, where endangered
Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles and the world's largest nesting population
of Laysan and black-footed albatrosses live.

Star-Bulletin staff

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