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Walter J. McCarthy Spill Response

Vessel Oil Spill Response

Location: Superior, WI

Client: Marine Pollution Control

EMR responded to a report of a 1,000-foot long vessel that was taking on water in the Duluth-Superior Harbor. The vessel had struck an unknown object which had punctured the hull and flooded the engine room with an estimated 1.2 million gallons of lake water to a depth of 20 feet. The engine room contained approximately 3,000 gallons of oil in various containers and mechanical equipment.


With air temperature between -25ºF to 0ºF, the most immediate concern was the freezing of millions of gallons of ballast water stored on the ship. In less than eight hours of initial response, EMR collected representative samples of the engine room water, procured a quick turnaround laboratory, and completed the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources permit application to allow for the discharge of the engine room water that would need to occur during discharge of the ballast water. Skimming operations began immediately and continued for five days, resulting in the recovery of approximately 2,150 gallons of oil. Upon completion of de-ballasting operations, EMR coordinated the removal and disposal of approximately 100,000 gallons of petroleum contact water that remained in the engine room.

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