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Safety zone in western Alaska

10 Jan 2012 15:41 GMT

Safety zone established around fuel delivery and ship operations on the Alaska coastline.



The U.S. Coast Guard has established a safety zone around all fuel delivery and ship operations at Nome, Alaska.

In a statement, the US Coast Guard said: "In accordance with the anticipated fuel delivery to Nome and the associated ice breaking activities in the area, the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port is establishing a safety zone around all vessel and fuel delivery operations."

The Russian-flagged tanker, Renda [pictured], has been ploughing its way through the frozen sea to deliver more than 1.3 million gallons of fuel to Nome, a city of about 3,500 people on the western Alaska coastline that did not receive its last pre-winter fuel delivery because of a storm.

According to local reports, if the delivery of diesel fuel and unleaded gasoline is not made, the city is likely to run short of fuel supplies before another barge delivery can be made in spring.

Crews on both the tanker Renda and the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy have been fighting their way through the relentless ice, up to 4 feet thick, for several days. In some cases, the ice has been so thick that the Healy has opened a path for the Renda, only to see it close before the Renda could use it, forcing the Healy to circle around and reopen a path.

Coast Guard personnel will be enforcing a 100-yard safety zone around the tanker vessel and a 50-yard safety zone around any fuel delivery hoses and operations.

The purpose of the safety zone is to protect the Renda and associated transfer hoses from people, vehicles, vessels, and objects within these areas operating outside the normal shipping channels, anchorages, and fairways.

Placing a safety zone around the Renda will aim to significantly reduce the threat of an oil spill and to protect the environment. Entry into the safety zone has been prohibited unless specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port for Western Alaska or a designated representative.

"The Coast Guard strongly advises residents, crab fishermen, and snowmobilers to stay away from icebreaking operations as these operations may weaken or destabilize the ice. Anyone with fishing gear or other equipment on the ice located off shore near the Nome Harbor are encouraged to remove their gear before the arrival of the Coast Guard Cutter Healy and the Renda early Monday as ice breaking activities may result in the loss of that equipment." the US Coast Guard said.

The Renda is expected to arrive at Nome on Thursday or Friday, according to latest estimates.






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