GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

January 4, 2013

Trawler runs aground, leaks oil

100 to 150 gallons of heating fuel float into Rocky Neck cove

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — GLOUCESTER — The Osprey, a herring trawler weighing in at 171 tons and 108 feet long, ran aground Wednesday night, resulting in an oil spill.

The vessel, rigged for herring, was on its way out of its home pier in Gloucester around 10 p.m. Wednesday when it ran aground off the coast of Ten Pound Island, according to U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Garret Meyer.

One of the trawler’s fuel tanks ruptured, and as a result, an estimated 100 to 150 gallons of red-dyed No. 2 heating fuel spilled into a small cove off of Sumac Lane on Rocky Neck, across from the U.S. Coast Guard station, said Joseph Ferson, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

When the Osprey returned to its home pier off Harbor Loop about 1:30 a.m. Thursday, it was drained of any remaining fuel and repairs began immediately, Meyer said.

The state agency contacted Enpro, a Newburyport-based environmental cleanup agency, to clean up the spill.

Enpro employees arrived about 1:30 p.m. Thursday with pads to absorb the oil and a vacuum truck to siphon the oil out of the water.

While the pungent smell of fuel lingered in the air, Paul Giddings, a DEP environmental analyst who was on the scene, said he expected the cleanup to last a few hours, but the effort could go into Friday morning.

While there were two dead birds floating in the water near the oil slick, Giddings said the birds’ deaths were unrelated to the spill.

Ferson said no animals were killed as a result of the fuel spill and no crew members of the Osprey were injured.

Enpro used hard and soft booms, about 100 feet in length, to stop the oil from moving away from the cove and to prevent any more fuel from leaking out of the Osprey.

The incoming tide and wind direction Thursday afternoon benefited the cleanup effort.

“We lucked out, this area acts as a natural collection point,” Giddings said.

Ferson said the vessel is owned by Peter Mullen of Gloucester, doing business as Irish Ventures Inc., and was being operated by Padraic Dirrane of Braintree at the time of the incident.

The vessel is connected to the processing plant in the old Empire Fish Co. buildings on Harbor Loop, which Mullen also owns.

Mullen, who owns other Gloucester-based vessels, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3455 or jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.