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Lewes, Delaware
Jim's Towing Service
October 9, 1998     Cape Gazette
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October 9, 1998
 

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18- CAPE GAZETTE, Fri'day,:October:9 " f ber' i5,1J Delaware Bay remains nation's second largest oil port Lightering operation handles 90 million barrels of crude each year; no spills in past 10 years Delriver" for an annual review of operations in place to protect the natural resources of Delaware's shores. Capt. Greg Adams of the U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port for Delaware River and Bay and for the offshore waters of New Jersey and Delaware, said during the trip that the Coast Guard mon- itors the lightering operations very carefully. "It's a high risk operation but it's one that has an excellent record," Adams told those on board for the tour. "It's very cost- ly to monitor it as closely as we do and to make sure that there are properly trained crews and proper- ly equipped vessels available to handle any problems that may arise. And it's a very closely reg- ulated operation," said Adams. "But the highest cost of all would be a major oil spill and none of us want that to happen." Richard Steady, manager of reg- ulatory affairs for Maritrans, which operates barges and tug boats with extensive involvement in lightering, said all involved are very proud of the way the lighter- ing operations are handled. 10-year perfect record "In the past 10 years there have been no spills here attributable to lightering," said Steady. He said the lightering operation handles about 90 million barrels of oil per By Dennis Forney With the exception of the Gulf of Mexico, more crude oil moves through the Delaware Bay and River than any other waterway system in the United States. Several times every day of the year, crude oil tankers pass through the capes of Delaware and New Jersey headed toward seven different refineries on the Delaware River shores of Delaware, New Jersey and Penn- sylvania. Due to the limited depth of the Delaware Bay and River however, much of that oil must be transferred to barges so the tankers can make it up to the re- fineries without striking bottom and risking an environmentally- devastating oil spill. The process of offloading a por- tion of each tanker's oil is called lightering and almost all of that operation takes place in an area known as the Big Stone Anchor- age in Delaware Bay. The Delaware Bay and River Cooperative (DBRC), founded in 1981 by the petroleum and petro- leum transportation industries that use the local waterways, exists to ensure the safe transportation of cargoes and to preserve the health of the waterways. On Wednesday " of this week, members of the press, Delaware's legislature and other interested local and state or- ganizations joined the DBRC aboard its oil recovery spill vessel Dennis Forney photos Shown aboard the Delriver for this week's review of lighten- ing operations are (l-r) Gary Patterson, executive director of the Delaware Petroleum Council which funds the Delaware Bay and River Cooperative (DBRC); Capt Greg Adams, U.S. Coast Guard Port Captain for Delaware Bay and River and the offshore waters of Delaware and. New Jersey; Richard Steady, regulatory affairs manager for Maritrans; and Knight Gardner, director of marine operations for DBRC. A tug-propelled Maritrans barge, right, takes on crude oil from a tanker in the Big Stone Anchorage of Delaware Bay be- tween Slaughter Beach and Lewes. : year [55 gallons of crude per bar- rel] in about 4,000 separate opera- dons. Steady said that tankers to be lightered are navigated into the an- chorage area by members of the Pilots Association ior Bay and River Delaware. Anchored in wa- ter between 55 and 90 feet deep, the vessels then await Maritrans barges that come alongside pro- pelled by high-powered tug boats. Thick cushions called Yokohama bumpers are placed between the vessels before lines pull them close together. The tanker then begins using a system of specially designed hoses and pumps to of- fload some of its cargo to the barge until it has brought the tanker's draft up to a depth safe for the main shipping Channel in the bay and river. The care taken in the lightering operations keeps things slow for the crews of the oil spill recovery vessels operated by DBRC and other agencies that play a similar role in the Delaware Bay es.tuary system. Nonetheless, two four-person crews man the Delriver out of Lewes around the clock, 365 days a year, in case a problem should arise. If there is a spill, the Delriv- er can leave the dock in less than half an hour and get to problem spots within a couple of hours. It then uses a system of floating booms pulled by twin-engined Zo- diac vessels carried aboard the 130-foot vessel to corral oil float- ing on the surface. The oil then gels sucked into ports on either side of the vessel where special brushes scour it from the water and drop it into container tanks on board. "We test the systems con- stantly," said Knight Gardner, di- rector of marine operations for DBRC. ""We have to be ready all the time but the less we have to deal with actual emergencies the happier we'll be." BUFFWr FUNDRAISER FOR BILL MURRAY ,o. STATE REPRESENTATIVE 38TH DISTRICT I{ Music Provided by "Bunky Eye" Contribution $25 per person Tickets can be purchased in advance or will be available at the door. Call Margaret K. 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