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u s fish and wildlife service Kurdistan oil spill




On March 15, 1979, the British Tanker Kurdistan, owned by the Nile Steamship Co. Ltd. of Newcastle, England, was bound from Point Tupper, NS, to Quebec City loaded with 29,662 tons of "Bunker C" fuel oil. At 2:20pm, when situated 50 nautical miles northeast of Sydney, Cape Breton, the tanker, lashed by gale force wind, in ice-infested water, developed vertical gashes below the waterline in the number 3 wing tanks. These tanks, which had a total capacity of 10,000 tons, soon began to leak oil.
Surveyors onboard the Coast Guard vessel Sir William Alexander, which was dispatched to assess the Kurdistan's damage, advised the tanker to slowly proceed to Sydney, the nearest port of refuge. However, a short time later the Kurdistan split in two, spilling 7000 tons of oil from the number 3 tanks into the turbulent water. Surprisingly, the two sections of the vessel remained intact, and neither leaked any oil. In a daring rescue, all of the 41 crew members were removed from the stern section by the Sir William Alexander.
The bow section, floating at a near vertical angle, was impossible to salvage and was with its cargo in over 2,000 fathoms(12000 ft) of water south of Sable Island at the position 4155.02'N, 6058.00'W on April 1, 1979.
The stern section, including its cargo, was towed to the Port Hawkesbury Harbor. Eventually 15,300 tonnes of oil was heated and pumped from the stern section into a chartered Gulf Canada tanker at Mulgrave, NS.
The first reports of shoreline oiling came two weeks after the breakup. The east coast of Cape
Breton Island, portions of the eastern mainland of Nova Scotia as far south as Lunenburg County,
and the south coast of Newfoundland were oiled during the next two and a half months.
An estimated 880 km of Nova Scotia shoreline were manually cleaned over the summer months.
Readily accessible areas along the south coast of Newfoundland from north of Port-Aux-Basques to Portugal Cove were also cleaned.
By mid-September, 1979, most of the cleanup of Nova Scotia beaches had been completed although spots of re-oiling still occurred from time to time.
Facility Ownership and Product Description
The British Tanker Kurdistan, was owned by the Nile Steamship Ltd. of Newcastle, England and was traveling from the Gulf Oil terminal in Point Tupper, NS, to Sept Iles, Quebec. It was loaded with 29,662 tons of "Bunker C" fuel oil.
Bunker "C" fuel oil is a term which has been used for many years to designate the most thick and
sticky of the residual fuels. When steamships were coal-fired, "bunkers" was the name for the bins
used to hold the coal. As marine diesel engines became prevalent, the term was carried over to include the liquid fuel tanks.
Bunker "C" fuel oil is a sticky, black liquid similar in appearance and smell to asphalt sealing
compounds. At 10 C it has a consistency of liquid honey or corn syrup. At 0 C it barely flows.
It is currently produced by blending the oil remaining after the refining process with lighter oil.
Because it is less dense than water, fresh Bunker "C" fuel oil would float in water either at or below the surface. As the oil ages or "weathers", it becomes heavier, but it would still float under most conditions. If the oil comes into contact with sediment, sand or other shoreline materials, they may heed together forming lumps or tar balls.
The Kurdistan was loaded with 29,662 tons of Bunker "C" fuel oil when it developed vertical gashes below the waterline in the number 3 wing tanks. These tanks, which had a total capacity of 10,000 tons soon began to leak oil, dispensing 7000 tons of this oil into the turbulent water.
In total, over 550 miles of shoreline was cleaned, 997,000 bags and 1,500 barrels of oily debris were collected.
A group was developed to advise the O.C. (Canadian Coast Guard On Scene Commander) regarding cleanup needs and priorities consisted primarily of EPS (Environmental Protection Service of Environment Canada) personnel. However, many other agencies contributed professional advice to EPS, including the Atlantic Geoscience Center (coastline assessments), Canada Center for Remote Sensing (reconnaissance surveys), Department of Fisheries and Oceans (sensitivity maps), advice from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans personnel, Parks Canada personnel, and Nova Scotia ... more

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Turtle

Distinction
For many reasons the human race could be called a blessing. Great
advanced in technology, medicine and even the fact we are the most sophisticated
species on the planet. Are we a gift to planet Earth, or far from it? With cast
amounts of pollution and destruction of the planet, not to mention unthinkable
acts of violence and hate that has been going on since the beginning of time.

Are we really as sophisticated and important as we have led ourselves to
believe? Are we any better than any other creature because we are more
technologically advanced? Is the human race a blessing? Humans have destroyed
and endangered more species on our planet than any other species or group, with
our continuous pollution and lack of respect for out own environment. One area
of the world affected by our careless habits is our coastlines and the marine
habitats that vast amounts of species rely on. These particular areas of the
world are being destroyed because humans dont seem to care as long as they
make a couple of dollars in the process. Oil spills like the one in the Prince

William Sound on the coast of Alaska and Hawaiian sea turtles and their many
troubles with humans are just some examples of human carelessness and the
consequences that the environment, particularly marine wildlife incur, which
often are fatal. I chose this particular subject because I find the ocean and
its unique and rare inhabitants to be interesting. Every coastline has its
one unique species and no two areas are the same. I wanted to learn more about
how humans are destroying the habitats of these unique creatures. I found that
all species are in someway being threatened by human dominance and carelessness.

From the common flounder or sea star you can find when you walk across the beach
to a rare fish like the coelacanth (prehistoric fish that was believed to be
extinct until one was caught off the coat of Madagascar by a local commercial
fisherman until in the 1950s). The ocean can be a calm and loving but can
easily turn into a vicious killer within seconds. All of these things are what I
find so interesting about the ocean. I wanted to find out why people can
continue to destroy it even though they know the effect of their actions. I
guess some people are ignorant and just dont care if they destroy the things
that make our environment so beautiful. One example of our careless destruction
of our environment is the Exxon Valdez oil spill off the coast of Alaska in

1989. The Prince William Sound still shows signs of the oil spill tem years
later. Most species have recovered since the spill, but many are still
suffering. The Harbor Seal and herring are just two who are vital to the
survival of all the species in the area. Herring are the main source of food for
many species in the area, including humans. (Mitchell, p.98) "The ecosystem is
gradually recovering from the spill," says Molly McCammon, an Executive
director of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, "but it will never be
the same as it was twenty years ago." The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee

Council was founded to oversee the use of nine hundred million dollars to the
area by the government after settling with the Exxon Company for one billion
dollars in criminal and civil damages. One serious problem in the aftermath of

Exxon Valdez is the decline of herring. (The table shows the chave in
populations of Prince William Sound before and after the Exxon Valdez spill.)

Even more disturbing than the fact herring arent recovering as well as other
species like them is the fact they were on the decline before the accident. This
was a major issue because herring are the center of the ecosystem in the Sound.

Many biologists now believe that over fishing of the herring has contributed to
their decline. The Pacific Herring is just one species of the area, but if you
see how important that one species is to the ecosystem of the Alaskan coast than
you begin to see how important all species are to their particular habitats.

This is just one example, but if you take a species out of its environment, then
a chain reaction would occur, hurting the species around it. Another species
that biologists are beginning to study wit the money received from the Exxon

Valdez settlement is the Alaskan Salmon. The oil spill has ... more

u s fish and wildlife service

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