HONOLULU — The Coast Guard, Department of Health and responsible party have established a Unified Command, Friday, in response to a 95-foot towing vessel that sank off Barbers Point Harbor, Oahu. Environmentalists are concerned that the 75,000 gallons of diesel fuel on board could cause serious damage to animals, fish, mammals and birds – not to mention the reef ecosystem and nearby shorelines.
An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point conducted an initial overflight Friday morning of the sinking location and from Barbers Point, north to Nanakuli and observed no sheen in the water. Additional overflights are scheduled throughout the day Saturday.
Shoreline assessment teams have not observed any diesel impacting shorelines. The smell of diesel has been reported at White Plains and Nanakuli. Shoreline assessment teams are conducting air sampling and have not detected levels of concern to public health and safety.
A Clean Islands Council vessel observed a one mile by 50-foot sheen near the offshore mooring buoy off Barbers Point. The fishing vessel Seahawk also reported a red diesel sheen approximately seven miles south of Honolulu Airport to which a Clean Islands Council vessel is responding.
The Oil Spill Trust and Liability Fund has been opened with $50,000 available for response operations.
Volunteers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are looking for impacted wildlife throughout the area. The Unified Command is coordinating with local lifeguards to monitor local beaches for impact. The State of Hawaii has not issued any warning to the public concerning water and shoreline safety.
Out of an abundance of caution, individuals who believe they have come in contact with diesel should seek medical attention if experiencing an adverse reaction.
The Nalani sank in approximately 2,200 feet of water and was carrying an estimated 75,000 gallons of diesel fuel.
The public should report any observable shoreline impact or injured wildlife to the Unified Command at (808) 842-5058.