Wednesday, January 31, 2001
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Posted on: Wednesday, January 31, 2001

Team to assess oil spill's impact on Kaua'i

By James Gonser
Advertiser Leeward Bureau

KALAELOA — A team from the Hawaii Oil Spill Response Center is headed to Kauai tomorrow to check for any oil that may have drifted to the Garden Isle from a 630-gallon spill into the ocean at Tesoro Hawaii’s mooring site off Kalaeloa on Sunday.

As of yesterday afternoon, what remained of the oil slick had drifted about 17 miles southwest of Kalaeloa and is projected to continue in that direction, away from O
ahu and Kauai.

A shoreline assessment team of U.S. Coast Guard, state Department of Health and Tesoro officials will walk Kauai’s south and east shore beaches looking for any signs of oil from the spill.

"We have not received any reports of impact to sea mammals, birds or marine life, but will continue to monitor the situation for impact to any animals," said Curtis Martin, the Health Department’s emergency response preparedness coordinator. "We will also monitor any impact to Kauai beaches."

Teams on Monday walked Oahu’s Leeward beaches from the Barbers Point lighthouse to the Kahe power plant but found no signs of the crude.

The oil spill occurred at about 7:15 a.m. Sunday as the tanker Overseas Chicago was unloading 600,000 barrels of crude oil through hoses and undersea pipelines to the Tesoro refinery at Kalaeloa when a coupling separated from a hose, spilling oil for less than five seconds, according to F. David Hoffman, manager of environmental affairs and emergency preparedness for Tesoro.

The hose coupling has a built-in safety feature that closes off the hose in the event of a disconnection, stopping the flow of oil, Hoffman said. The section of hose connected to the tanker was lifted from the water and the coupling that separated is being sent to the manufacturer to determine why it failed.

A tugboat on the scene supplied with emergency equipment immediately began the cleanup. In all, five on-water response teams were mobilized to respond to the incident, deploying containment barriers (booms), a skimmer and absorbent material.

The cleanup effort will continue until called off by state and Coast Guard officials.

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