Q/A (more Q than A): The 11/4/2010 Wall of Toxic Stink

Summary of Events: Harley Marine out on Main Street is the holding company for Marine Starlight and Public Service Marine (PSM, based in Seattle). Two crude-oil tank-holding barges owned by PSM are named the Jovalan and the Olympic Spirit.  During the Fall of 2010, the Jovalan brought crude oil up from San Diego in September and Santa Barbara in November.  Each time, PSM conducted two illicit crude oil transfers from the Jovalan to the Olympic Spirit, in order to be able to deliver their crude oil (from San Diego and/or Santa Barbara) to the Conoco-Philips refinery.

QUESTION   Why would one barge need to transfer it’s hold of crude oil it had collected in Santa Barbara before delivering the crude oil to Conoco-Philips?

ANSWER   Because the Jovalan is a single-hull barge.  Conoco-Philips requires any delivery at their facility to be done from a double-hull barge/ship.

QUESTION  Are single-hull barges/ships even legal anymore in the state of California?

ANSWER  No.  In 1990, TWENTY YEARS AGO, the U.S. enacted the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) that requires oil tankers entering US ports be double-hulled, and requires the phase out of existing single-hull tankers.

QUESTION: Why is Harley Marine’s PSM allowed to run a single-hulled barge up and down our coast, and in and out of our bay?

ANSWER:  No good answer.  Is it illegal? If, not, what’s the loophole?  More research needed!

Below is the timeline of the Fall 2010 events. Following that, the Bay Area Air Quality Management (BAAQMD) complaint numbers and violation numbers in case you want to make a public records request for copies of the reports from BAAQMD (to do so, email publicrecords@baaqmd.gov).

September 2010: PSM conducts a transfer of crude oil without a BAAQMD permit (required) that was only discovered  after Liz and I  reported the 11/4/2010 event to BAAQMD.  Every crude-oil tank-holding ship is required by the US Coast Guard to keep a written log of all crude oil transfers in a book titled “Oil Record for Ships”.  PSM had a transfer recorded in their book. BAAQMD zeroxed their book on 11/5 and noted this, and has filed a violation against them for this.

November 2, 2010: PSM makes its first attempt to do the crude oil transfer from the Jovalan to the Olympic Spirit. Something goes terribly wrong; they spill crude oil into the shipping channel, our estuary. We have an oil spill!  They are required by law to self-report this to the Office of Oil Spill and Response (OSPR) and they do.  No one notices that PSM has no permit for this transfer.

November 4, 2010, WALL OF STINK afternoon/evening. 35 calls to 911 reporting the smell.  AFD investigates, observes the Jovalan along with her multitude of leaks and decrepit equipment, the intense odor on the boat and the wharf and across our island, and does nothing. (!)  Three Alameda residents call BAAQMD, the US Coast Guard (who belittle us and threaten us as the nuisance despite the fact that this very vessel spilled oil in our estuary two days prior!  They have to know this; it’s their purview and it was reported), the National Response Center (NRC), etc.  Which is fortunate because….

November 5, 2010: BAAQMD boards the Jovalan in Alameda and the Olympic Spirit at the Conoco-Philips refinery and finds multiple issues to both investigate and enforce, multiple issues upon which to issue violations, all serious.

FIVE BAAQMD Complaint Numbers: 208022, 208043, 208044, 208063, 208067

THREE BAAQMD Violations – public records not available until the violations are settled/paid

A49471: public nuisance (costly, more severe penalty)

A49472 and A48473: Against the Jovalan and the Olympic Spirit for equipment problems and failure to notify BAAQMD of the transfers

WHAT’S NEXT at BAAQMD: The violations go to BAAQMD’s legal team for evaluation and to determine the fines levied.  Then PMS can either pay the fine, argue and settle out of court, or take it to court.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR ‘Not Oz: Raising Hell for Good’

1. figure out what needs to happen within the AFD for the first responders to engage regional, state, and federal public and environmental health agencies DURING TOXIC EVENTS….and ensure that gets added into their required procedures and protocols. Battalion Commander Zombeck surely can tell the difference between an intensely stinky and toxic crude oil  event and a significantly less stinky non-toxic black oil event. If not, the entire AFD needs to learn to differentiate this and report accurately to BAAQMD!

2. figure out what the heck is going on out on Main Street….what are the laws around single-hull crude oil tank-holding crafts??  Why do the Harley companies work without BAAQMD permits?  Why do their representatives tell me they are conducting black oil transfers when they full-well know it’s crude oil?  How do we ensure they behave within the OSPR, USCG, and BAAQMD laws?


About Denise Lai

Alive. Swim (fly is the best). Walking with my dog (weims are the best). Life is good. Would prefer people understood negative externalities and prevented themselves from creating them. Feeling the love anyway. View all posts by Denise Lai

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