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Barge Bouchard 155; Tampa Bay, Florida

Tampa Bay, Florida | 1993-Aug-10

Initial Notification: On August 10, 1993, at approximately 0545, the freighter Balsa 37, the barge Ocean 255, and the barge Bouchard 155 collided in the shipping channel west of the Skyway Sunshine Bridge south of Mullet Key in Tampa Bay, FL. MSO Tampa closed the port to vessel traffic. This collision caused three separate emergencies: 1) the Balsa 37, which was carrying a cargo of phosphate rock, was severely damaged on the starboard side, was listing at an increasing rate, and was in danger of capsizing in the channel; 2) the Ocean 255, which was loaded with jet fuel, gasoline, and a small amount of diesel fuel was burning out of control just south of Mullet Key; and 3) the Bouchard 155 was holed at the port bow spilling approximately 8,000 barrels of #6 fuel oil into Tampa Bay. Stabilizing the vessels was the first priority of responders. By 2200 the Ocean 255 barge fire was extinguished and the GST was conducting cooling procedures and maintaining a fire watch. Lightering operations were well underway on the Bouchard 155 barge in preparation for moving it to dockage in the Port of Tampa where it would be cleaned before dry docking. The Balsa 37 was intentionally grounded outside the shipping channel to prevent it from capsizing and to open the channel for traffic while repairs and stability evaluations were conducted. August 10 overflight observations showed a three- to six-meter wide band of oil along the beaches. By the next day, this band appeared to be about half its original width. Systematic shoreline surveys were conducted and oil was found buried by two to eight inches of clean sand deposited during high tide. Cleanup crews focused on manually removing the band of surface oil high on the beach. A plan was developed to remove the subsurface oil without generating large volumes of sediment for handling, disposal, and replacement. The plan called for mechanical removal of the heavy buried layers, manual removal of moderately oiled sediments, and mechanically pushing stained sand onto the lower part of the beach for surf washing. Pompoms were strung along the surf zone to collect any oil refloated during the surf washing. By August 11 the status of the vessels had improved substantially. The response focus began to change from emergency issues to skimming operations, protection strategies, forecasts, and planning. Meanwhile, cleanup crews were contending with very thick oil that had been deposited around some mangrove islands. Tarmats formed when sediment was mixed with oil along the shallow flats surrounding the islands. Large thick mats coated mangrove roots, oyster and seagrass beds, and tidal mud flats. Most of this oil was vacuumed out using vacuum transfer units on grounded barges staged around the islands and shallow areas. Seawalls within the bay were being washed using high-pressure water heated to 110 degrees. The GST was onscene throughout the spill response. They provided support with the Vessel of Opportunity Skimming System as well as the fire fighting, monitoring, and lightering of the Ocean 255 barge. Roughly 14.5 miles of fine-grained sand beach from St. Petersburg Beach north to Redington Shores Beach were affected by this spill. Sand beaches on Egmont Key at the entrance to Tampa Bay were also oiled. Additionally, four mangrove islands inside the entrance to Boca Ciega Bay at Johns Pass and two small areas of Spartina marsh were oiled. Jetties, seawalls, and riprap within the bay and at Johns Pass and Blind Pass were also oiled to varying degrees. It is estimated that over 30 miles of residential seawalls were oiled within Boca Ciega Bay. Some impact also occurred on the northern side of Mullet Key at Bonne Fortune Key in fringing mangroves. Seawalls, jetties, walkways, and riprap were cleaned by high-pressure hot-water washes. PES-51 was considered for some of these cleaning needs, but after observing comparison tests performed by the manufacturer, the RP decided against its use. Cleanup of submerged tarmats offshore is ongoing. NOAA is working with the RRT, the GST, the Army Corps of Engineers, the FOSC, State officials, and various scientists and engineers to develop a sound method for dealing with the tarmats. Additional on-scene participation by NOAA is anticipated. USCG district 7. Keyword: sorbent pompoms, high-pressure warm-water washes, sorbent boom.

Incident Details
Primary threat:Oil
Products of concern:#6 fuel oil
Total amount at risk of spill: 336,000 gallons
Latitude (approximate): 27° 36.00′ North
Longitude (approximate): 82° 43.00′ West