Marine Pollution ControlMarine Pollution Control
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Maine-based Coast Guard Cutter arrives in Detroit

January 20, 2012

CLEVELAND ― The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Thunder Bay, a 140-foot ice breaking tug normally homeported in Rockland, Maine, is scheduled to arrive in Detroit and moor near Cobo Hall on Friday in support of the Coast Guard’s 2011-12 domestic ice breaking mission and a security zone for the 24th Annual North American Auto Show.

The cutter Thunder Bay’s crew has been temporarily assigned to the Great Lakes during the 2011-12 ice breaking season, augmenting the 9th Coast Guard District’s ice breaking fleet as part of the largest domestic ice breaking operations in the country.

“This has been an adventure since leaving Rockland in late November,” said Lt. Jerry Smith, commanding officer of cutter Thunder Bay. “We arrived in out temporary homeport of Cleveland after traveling 1,700 nautical miles. The trip took 14 days and was quite a journey. Once we started operating we learned that the Great Lakes are unique and special. This deployment is something the crew will remember for their entire careers.”

The cutter Thunder Bay will be available for free tours on Saturday, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Read the full story:

Wellington residents seek answers following massive gasoline spill from Sunoco pipeline

Wednesday, January 18, 2012
WELLINGTON, Ohio - As crews continued the round the clock cleanup Monday night of the 116,760 gallons of gasoline that spilled from an 8-inch pipeline last Thursday, concerned residents gathered a short distance away at Wellington High School in search of answers.

From Sunoco Logistics Vice President of Operations Dave Justin, though, first came an apology. 

"To all the resident's who we've displaced and to all the people we've impacted and to this community I want to apologize," said Justin. "That is our pipe, I'm responsible for it, we're responsible for the product that's in it, we're now responsible for the product that's gotten out and we're responsible for all  the impacts it has caused." 

The U.S. EPA outlined for residents the round the clock work that has been going on since Thursday to clean the site and make it safe for the roughly 70 displaced residents to return. A process that would have been much more intensive had it not been for the quick actions of the Wellington Fire Department. 

"I've worked a lot of these spills," U.S. EPA Incident Commander Jeff Lippert. "I've never seen a local response like it. They cut it off at the neck nothing got down river, it's all contained in a ditch, nothing made it out to a navigable waterway, they saved the day in my opinion." 

But even still, they explained it's not safe for residents immediately adjacent to the spill site to return to their homes because the levels of benzene in the air continue to be too high. The acceptable level from the dangerous vapor is 6 parts per billion. They've had readings at the site as high as 65 parts per billion. 

Lippert explained the readings would remain higher than normal as long as the contaminated soil was present and that they hope to have the excavation complete sometime Wednesday. 

Lippert also expressed concern of the rain hitting the area late Monday and Tuesday so they had Sunoco dig a trench around the site. "Any runoff that's going to come off the site or come from this saturated soil that they're in the process of excavating now, was going to get collected in this ditch." 

Displaced residents expressed concerns about when they might be able to return to their homes and over the long-term impact on their property and possibly their health. 

Pat Cypher and her husband have had enough.
"Do you know what it's like when you don't have enough clothes? I'm staying with my son, he's got two bedrooms I'm sleeping on a love seat," she said. "Yes we could go to a motel but that's not near our home." 

Doris Gray doesn't like being away from her home either, but can't help but feel lucky that she'll at least have a house to go home to whenever that is.

"We would have been incinerated," she said thinking about if there had been some type of spark. "So I think we're so fortunate." 

The pipeline sits 3 to 5 feet below ground and runs near Toledo to Western Pennsylvania. It was installed in 1952 and was last inspected with an internal camera in 2007. It's examined every five years and was scheduled to be inspected again next month. So far, crews have not been able to get close enough to the damaged pipe itself to determine what caused the spill because of the level of fumes in the immediate area.

U.S. laker fleet to invest $75M in off-season operational upgrades

Great Lakes yards will be busy improving propulsion, ballast water systems
The following is the text of a press release issued by the Lake Carriers' Association:
(CLEVELAND) -- More than 1,200 boilermakers, welders, electricians and other skilled craftsmen will be hard at work this winter maintaining and modernizing U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters when they lay up between late December and mid-January.

The major U.S.-flag operators will invest more than $75 million in their 56 vessels so the fleet will be ready to replenish stockpiles of iron ore, coal, cement, salt and limestone when shipping resumes next March. 

The work scheduled for this winter is as varied as the cargos the fleet carries. Eight vessels will be drydocked for the out-of-water survey of the hull the Coast Guard requires every 5 years. Huge concrete blocks are positioned in precise locations in the dry dock and the vessel gently settles on them as the water is pumped out of the chamber. Coast Guard inspectors then scour the hull for signs of any unusual wear and if any is found, order the steel replaced.

Although a study has determined that Great Lakes freighters produce 70 percent less emissions than trains and 90 percent less than trucks in moving a ton of cargo, that ratio will only get better with a number of main and auxiliary engine upgrades scheduled for this winter.

The industry’s commitment to reducing the potential that lakers’ ballast might spread a non-indigenous species introduced by an oceangoing vessel is evidenced by a number of vessels being fitted with high ballast water intakes. Traditionally vessels take on and discharge ballast water through seachests, as many as 18, located close to the bottom of the hull. High ballast water intakes not only reduce the potential that a fish or other living organism will be drawn in, they lessen the amount of sediment taken up with ballast water.

Other projects include renewal of steel in cargo holds, replacement of conveyor belts in unloading systems, upgrades of communication and navigation equipment, and overhauls of galleys.

The major shipyards on the Lakes are located in Sturgeon Bay and Superior, Wisconsin; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Toledo, Ohio. Smaller “top-side” repair operations are located in Cleveland, Ohio; Escanaba, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; and several cities in Michigan. It is estimated that a vessel generates $800,000 in economic activity in the community in which it is wintering.

Sub-freezing temperatures aren’t the only challenge facing Great Lakes shipyards and their craftsmen. Many vessels lay-up right after the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, close on January 15, and get underway when the locks reopen on March 25. That leaves but nine weeks to prepare the vessels for 9-plus months of 24/7 operation.

For a few vessels, the winter lay-up is even shorter. The JOSEPH L. BLOCK, for example, often loads iron ore in Escanaba, Michigan, for deliverey to Indiana Harbor, Indiana, until the end of January and then opens that trade around March 10. 

Worn steel and other materials are recycled as much as possible, but in what might be something of a first, one job is going to help heat homes this winter. The entire wear deck on a barge is being replaced and the 75,000 board feet of oak lumber that must be removed will then fuel wood-burning furnaces.

When the fleet returns to service next spring, it will welcome a new 740-foot-long self-unloader. The as-yet unnamed barge is nearing completion at the shipyard in Erie, Pennsylvania. It will be able to carry nearly 38,000 tons of cargo each trip. Also joining the fleet will be an integrated tug/barge unit that previously worked the Gulf.

When the economy is strong, the U.S.-flag Lakes fleet will carry more than 115 million tons of cargo per year. Iron ore for steel production is the largest commodity – 50 million tons. Roughly half of the country’s steelmaking capacity is located in the Great Lakes basin. Cargos of coal for power generation and limestone and cement for the construction industry can collectively top 50 million tons. Other cargos include salt to de-ice wintry roads, sand for industrial production, and cereal grains.

Rolls-Royce to Upgrade Interlake’s Tug Dorothy Ann

Cleveland, Ohio - Rolls-Royce Commercial Marine has been contracted to upgrade Interlake Steamship Company's Tug Dorothy Ann. The 124-foot, 7,200- horsepower Z-drive tug is the largest Z-drive ATB tug built to date in North America and is mated to the barge Pathfinder. The duo is engaged in hauling bulk commodities on the Great Lakes.
The upgrade will convert the Dorothy Ann's Rolls-Royce/Ulstien azimuth thrusters from fixed-pitch to controllable-pitch propellers. The project will include replacement of the lower drive units as well as all thruster control systems on the vessel. This conversion will improve the reliability of the vessel's propulsion system equipment and reduce overall maintenance costs. Great Lakes Shipyard will perform the work under its new affiliation as the Rolls-Royce Regional Service Center on the Great Lakes. This contract is the first to take place since Great Lakes Shipyard and Rolls-Royce Commercial Marine Inc. teamed up to create the Marine Service Center.
Great Lakes Shipyard, a division of The Great Lakes Towing Company, operates a full-service shipyard specializing in all types of vessel new construction, repairs, and modifications. A major Shipyard expansion project at its Cleveland location is now well- underway and includes a new state-of-the-art 770-ton Marine Travelift; the largest on the Great Lakes, second largest in the Western Hemisphere, and the third largest in the World. Current projects include the complete construction and delivery of a work boat for the Port of Milwaukee and contracts with SEACOR Holdings, Inc. to build two tugs for operation at the Hovensa Oil Refinery in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
To learn more about the company and its shipyard, visit


Thursday, January 5, 2012
Last week, the International Spill Control Organization (ISCO) received a written confirmation that the Assembly of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has approved the award of full consultative status.  ISCO received provisional consultative status at IMO four years ago, and since this time, has been actively representing the international spill response community at meetings of the Marine Environment Protection Committee and the IMO OPRC-HNS Working Group.

David Usher, ISCO President and Chairman of Detroit-based ISCO member Marine Pollution Control, commented, “It’s an honor and pleasure to announce IMO’s granting of full consultative status to the International Spill Control Organization.  It was in 1984, after being successful in developing the Spill Control Association of America (SCAA), that we felt the need to be able to communicate the concerns of the international spill control community to the maritime environmental world through IMO.   My esteemed colleague, John McMurtrie, and I went forward with the idea of giving to the environmental communities of the world the knowledge of discovery and resolution of spills of consequence.  We are honored to bring to the world communities the constant development of positive answers to the deterrence and mitigation of polluting spills. 

In 1929, my father as a young man was considered a liquid junk man. Today doing what he did then would earn him the honorable recognition as an environmentalist. I close with that thought, which I’ve always felt is one of the best examples of “better things for better living.”

ISCO Secretary John McMurtrie added, “In the ISCO Newsletter of 17th December 2007, we announced that for the very first time, individual responders, spill response organizations, manufacturers and others responsible for the world’s capacity to respond to oil and chemical spills will have a voice at the International Maritime Organization. The recognition of ISCO means that, at long last, the professionals in the front line of spill combat operations will join with other organizations at IMO representing oil, shipping and environmental interests. The inclusion of those who provide the essential infrastructure for spill response fills a longstanding gap and will ensure a much better balance, allowing direct dialogue between IMO and the spill response community”. 

The transition from provisional to permanent observer status at IMO is an important milestone for ISCO. Recognition at IMO followed two years after ISCO’s re-launch at IOSC Miami in 2005. For interest readers a paper introducing ISCO’s re-launch is reprinted in Issue 314 of the ISCO Newsletter at

For more information, contact John McMurtrie, +44 1467 632282, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Jeff Taylor, +1 313-849-2333, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..