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Kurdistan; Cabot Strait, Newfoundland

Cabot Strait, Newfoundland | 1979-Mar-15

Initial Notification: On March 15, 1979, the British motor tanker Kurdistan, en route from Nova Scotia to Quebec, broke in two sections south of Cabot Strait, Newfoundland. The damage was attributed to a fracture initiated by a weld defect and aggravated by wave impacts on the bow at low temperatures. Although the tanker remained intact for some time after the initial hull plate failure, the bow and stern sections eventually separated and spilled an estimated 43,900 barrels of Bunker C into Cabot Strait. The bow and stern sections drifted towards Canadian waters. Approximately 50,000 barrels of oil remained in the bow section while 115,000 barrels remained in the stern. A wide band of mobile pack ice initially prevented the spilled oil from reaching the shoreline. The Environmental Protection Service (EPS) immediately initiated the formation of the Regional Environmental Emergencies Team (REET) to provide assistance and advice to the Canadian Coast Guard's (CCG) On-Scene Commander (OSC). REET members included the Atmospheric Environment Service, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, and Fisheries Management Service. The REET was divided into three sections to deal with the three distinct problems: the bow, the stern, and the oil spill cleanup. Under Lloyds Open Forum, the stern section was towed to Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, to recover remaining oil. The bow section was towed to a deep water area 200 nautical miles off Nova Scotia and sunk by gunfire from the HMCS Margaree on April 1, 1979. Oil started coming ashore in April and two cleanup control centers were established at Low Point and Mulgrave, Nova Scotia. The oil continued to contaminate shorelines along the eastern coast of Nova Scotia throughout the summer. Keyword: Backhoes, boom, sorbents, manual removal, sub-surface oil, sinking, reoiling, disposal..

Incident Details
Products of concern:Bunker C
Latitude (approximate): 46° 0.00′ North
Longitude (approximate): 60° 0.00′ West