Cargo Ship Suffers Fire, Oil Leak in Alaska

Published Jun 5, 2013 9:13 AM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Coast Guard is monitoring the cargo ship BBC Arizona at the Valdez Container Terminal following a fire involving oil leaking from the ship’s containers Friday.

The ship’s crew notified first responders and successfully put out the fire. Valdez Fire Department personnel responded and determined the cause of the fire was due to ignition of oil leaking from several of the ship’s containers during hot work operations.

The Coast Guard received notification of the fire aboard the 454-foot cargo ship BBC Arizona, moored alongside the Valdez Container Terminal in Port Valdez, at approximately 11:45 a.m. Friday.

MSU Valdez personnel responded to the scene approximately 15 minutes later, noting that multiple containers aboard the BBC Arizona were leaking what appeared to be transformer oil. All leaking oil was contained on the deck of the ship and reportedly does not pose explosive or inhalation hazards.

Cmdr. Benjamin Hawkins, Captain of the Port, Prince William Sound, issued a Captain of the Port Order, directing the BBC Arizona to remain at the terminal and cease cargo transfer operations until the oil and its properties could be positively identified, all spilled product cleaned, and the ship decontaminated.

"The Coast Guard's number one priority is the safety of incident responders and the BBC Arizona's crew," said Hawkins. "We will make sure that the vessel's condition poses no danger to the crew or the Alaskan maritime environment before it leaves Port Valdez."

The ship’s owner contracted the oil spill response organization Emerald Services Inc. to conduct containment, clean up, disposal, and decontamination of the oil spilled on the ship’s deck. Emerald Services Inc. placed sorbent pads and secured the ship’s scuppers to prevent further spread of the oil.

MSU Valdez vessel inspectors conducted a Port State Control Exam on the BBC Arizona Saturday morning to verify that the condition of the ship and its equipment comply with the requirements of federal and international regulations and that the ship is manned and operated in compliance with these rules.

Under observation of the Coast Guard, Emerald Services Inc. also took samples of the oil to send off for analysis and property identification.

The BBC Arizona is an Antigua and Barbuda-flagged general dry cargo ship and heavy load carrier operated by BBC Chartering and Logistics. The ship’s last port of call was Qinhuangdao, China.