Oil Spill At Port Of Gulfport - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

08/11/05

Oil Spill At Port Of Gulfport

Nearly one thousand gallons of fuel were found floating in between two specialized cargo ships early Wednesday morning.

The spill happened after crews thought they were pumping fuel into the Mystic the previous evening.

"The product went into a bilge instead of a tank. Bilges send liquid out, and that's what happened. Either a problem with the valve caused a spill or somebody misread a valve," said port executive director Don Allee.

The exact cause of the spill will be determined, but now, Allee is focused on the most important part - the clean up.

"The rule is identify the problem, collect it and clean it up as quickly as possible. The yellow booms as they are called, that's part of the collection process. And so the booms are put out, the product will collect against the boom and the cleanup crew will literally vacuum product out of the water," said Allee.

The Coast Guard, along with the departments of environmental quality as well as the department of marine resources, along with the Gulfport fire department have been out here monitoring the cleanup which could take anywhere between 12 hours to three days.

One part of the cleanup will be to remove the residue off of the hull of the ships. These ships will not be allowed to sail until that happens.

Allee says this scene is very rare here at the port. He has not seen a spill like this in his four year tenure as port director.

But he says everyone followed the proper safety procedure after the spill was discovered. He says it could have been much worse.

"There is no such thing as a good spill, and if you look for good news, it was a thousand gallons. It could have been 10-thousand gallons, so that I'm optimistic about," said Allee.

As for the marine life in that area, Allee says the heavy fuel does have a tendency to eventually go to the bottom, but he is confident the crew will collect a great deal of it and physically remove it.

By Karla Redditte

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