fueloff

Diesel successfully removed from stranded trawler; first-ever operation under harsh conditions goes faster than expected

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Workers fearing they were in for a long and difficult ordeal have removed 322,000 liters of diesel from a trawler that was stranded in the northernmost part of Svalbard in what officials call an unprecedented operation in harsh weather and total darkness on a jagged icy island coastline.

approachship
Emergency officials and salvage experts approach the Northguider trawler several days after it was stranded in a strait in north Svalbard in late December. Photo courtesy of the Norwegian Coast Guard.

About 70 people worked to removed the fuel from the Northguider in a strait at Nordaustlandet, completing the work at about 4 a.m. Sunday, according to the Norwegian Coastal Administration. No fuel spillage or other environmental contamination occurred.

“A successful operation under such conditions has never been completed,” Rune Bergstrøm , a senior advisor for the Norwegian Coastal Administration, told Sysla.

The Northguider became stuck aground Dec. 28 due to damage, the cause of which remains officially undetermined, causing the vessel to list about 15 degrees and the engine room to fill with water. The 14 crew members were rescued by helicopter without serious incident, but officials with the government and a private salvage company hired by the ship’s owner said after an inspection days later removing the ship and its contents would likely be an extended operation due to the extremely remote and harsh conditions.

The area is a protected nature reserve and government officials said they were concerned debris from the ship as well as fuel could pose a significant environmental threat.

Workers aboard the Norwegian Coast Guard icebreaker Svalbard removed many of the hazardous materials and other items from the Northguider during the following days. The Dutch salvage company Ardent Global, hired by the ship’s owner and under the supervision of the coast guard, removed the diesel during the past few days.

“That was faster than planned,” Bergstrøm said.

He said weather has generally been favorable in the area, allowing work to go faster, although cold conditions have formed ice and slush in the sea areas where the crews are working.

Crews still need to remove plastic pollutants from the Northguider, which is expected to continue through Tuesday. After that planning for removal of the ship itself will begin.

The Norwegian shipping company Opilio, based in Austevoll, is responsible as the vessel’s owner for the cost of the salvage and removal.

 

 

About Post Author

Mark Sabbatini

I'm a professional transient living on a tiny Norwegian island next door to the North Pole, where once a week (or thereabouts) I pollute our extreme and pristine environment with paper fishwrappers decorated with seemingly random letters that would cause a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters to die of humiliation. Such is the wisdom one acquires after more than 25 years in the world's second-least-respected occupation, much of it roaming the seven continents in search of jazz, unrecognizable street food and escorts I f****d with by insisting they give me the platonic tours of their cities promised in their ads. But it turns out this tiny group of islands known as Svalbard is my True Love and, generous contributions from you willing, I'll keep littering until they dig my body out when my climate-change-deformed apartment collapses or they exile my penniless ass because I'm not even worthy of washing your dirty dishes.
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