Norden bulk carrier spills bunker oil into Columbia River

A bulk carrier spilled about 80 gallons of bunker oil into the Columbia River in Washington state yesterday, prompting containment, cleanup and investigation responses from a variety of agencies.

Nord Auckland, owned and operated by Denmark’s Norden, was at anchor when an apparent operator error led to the spill of substances which were intended to be incinerated.

The incident occurred near the city of Kalama.

The multi-team response was coordinated by the Washington Department of Ecology and the US Coast Guard (USCG).

The Clean Rivers Cooperative was handling the cleanup with two booming vessels while pollution response experts from USCG’s Incident Management Division in Portland, Oregon, were also on hand.

A Department of Ecology spokesman said the spill caused a slick that was 45 feet wide and up to one and three-quarter miles long with oil streamers reaching 10 miles downstream.

The Department had an assessment team looking at the extent of environmental impacts as sheening had been seen near wildlife populations.

An investigation of what caused the spill is under way and the crew of the 610-foot Nord Auckland has been detained pending the inquiry.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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