Crews assess impact of sunken towing vessel off Kalaeloa

Local News
1-23 OIL SHEEN 2_75488

Crews continue to assess the environmental and health impacts after a 95-foot towing vessel sank two miles off Kalaeloa in West Oahu.

The Nalani went down Thursday afternoon in approximately 2,200 feet of water. It was carrying an estimated 75,000 gallons of diesel fuel.

Eleven people on board donned life jackets and abandoned ship. They were rescued by two good samaritan vessels and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Unified Command resources identified the largest concentration of diesel fuel 5 to 7 miles south of Sand Island and a Clean Islands Council Oil Spill Recovery Vessel was dispatched and successfully recovered about 500 gallons of diesel fuel on Friday.

Shoreline assessment teams identified a slight sheen on Ewa Beach and White Plains Beach that will naturally disperse.

At first light Saturday, Unified Command resources conducted shoreline, near-shore and over flight assessments of south facing shores to relocate the oil sheen.  Resources will be ready to respond and attempt to recover product from the water.   The Hawaii Department of Health will also be in the area conducting air monitoring.

The smell of diesel was reported at White Plains and Nanakuli, but shoreline assessment teams did not observe any diesel impacting shorelines. Air samples did not register levels of concern to public health and safety.

A Clean Islands Council vessel observed a one mile by 50-foot sheen near the offshore mooring buoy off Barbers Point. The fishing vessel Seahawk also reported a red diesel sheen approximately seven miles south of Honolulu International Airport.

“The sheen is maybe about two miles long or so,” said Lt. Scott Carr, U.S. Coast Guard. “Another recovery vessel was sent out to attempt to recover what product can be pulled up. With this particular product being a diesel fuel, it’s a light fuel. Sometimes it’s hard to recover because it is a light fuel (but) it’s good because it also means you have a high evaporation rate as well.”

The Oil Spill Trust and Liability Fund has been opened with $50,000 available for response operations.

Volunteers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are looking for impacted wildlife throughout the area, and lifeguards are helping to monitor local beaches for impact.

The State of Hawaii has not issued any warning to the public concerning water and shoreline safety.

Out of an abundance of caution, individuals who believe they have come in contact with diesel should seek medical attention if experiencing an adverse reaction.

The public should report any observable shoreline impact or injured wildlife by calling (808) 842-5058.

Crews have yet to determine the fate of the vessel itself. “In some cases, you may end up leaving it because it’s at such a depth that it’ll be financially impossible to recover,” said Carr.

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