U.S. investigates MOL ship for oil leaks

The U.S. Coast Guard and California Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response are investigating an oil spill from a Bahamas-flagged car carrier that occurred on Sunday in the Los Angeles Harbor.

Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach command center received a report at 6:30 p.m., Sunday, of an unknown quantity of oil in the vicinity of the 577-foot cargo ship, Istra Ace. The ship was reported to have been leaking heavy fuel in the Cerritos channel at Berth 198, with oil also observed throughout portions of Cerritos Channel.

The Istra Ace is owned by Japanese shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL).

A unified command has been established that includes the Coast Guard, California Fish and Wildlife, and the responsible party.

Coast Guard investigators from Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach, along with members of California Fish and Wildlife, Los Angeles Port Police and Los Angeles County Fire are assisting in the investigation and monitoring of the area.

The initial investigation onboard the Istra Ace revealed faulty piping that may have allowed oil to leak from the starboard side of the ship. A Coast Guard helicopter overflight and shoreline clean-up assessments occurred at first light Monday to help determine the extent of the oil spilled.

The Coast Guard issued a safety zone restricting recreational and commercial vessel traffic in the area, ensuring that vessels do not impede clean-up operations as well as avoid any possible contamination.

The responsible party has contracted with the National Response Corporation Environmental Services and other sub-contractors to assist in efforts to contain and clean the oil.

Currently, 15,600 feet of boom has been deployed around the vessel as well as at critical points in the channel. The boom has successfully contained the oil within the affected area preventing further contamination of the harbor.

Contractors are continuing to clean with sweepers and sorbent pads in the affected area and also any affected shoreline, as well as deploy resources for removal of contamination from vessels, docks, pilings and other structures.

Due to response efforts, the operations of the Commodore Schuyler F. Heim Bridge have been temporarily suspended, restricting vessel traffic from transiting underneath the bridge. However, automobile traffic is not affected. On a case-by-case basis, requests to transit through the safety zone will be considered by the Unified Command.

At this time, there have been no confirmed reports of oiled wildlife.

Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.