The Dutch know how to handle maritime emergencies in the event of an oil spill

Some are attuned to the possibility of looming catastrophe and know how to head it off. Others are unprepared for risk and even unable to get their priorities straight when risk turns to reality.
The Dutch fall into the first group. Three days after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico began on April 20, the Netherlands offered the U.S. government ships equipped to handle a major spill, one much larger than the BP spill that then appeared to be underway. “Our system can handle 400 cubic metres per hour,” Weird Koops, the chairman of Spill Response Group Holland, told Radio Netherlands Worldwide, giving each Dutch ship more cleanup capacity than all the ships that the U.S. was then employing in the Gulf to combat the spill.
To protect against the possibility that its equipment wouldn’t capture all the oil gushing from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, the Dutch also offered to prepare for the U.S. a contingency plan to protect Louisiana’s marshlands with sand barriers. One Dutch research institute specializing in deltas, coastal areas and rivers, in fact, developed a strategy to begin building 60-mile-long sand dikes within three weeks.
The Dutch know how to handle maritime emergencies. In the event of an oil spill, The Netherlands government, which owns its own ships and high-tech skimmers, gives an oil company 12 hours to demonstrate it has the spill in hand. If the company shows signs of unpreparedness, the government dispatches its own ships at the oil company’s expense. “If there’s a country that’s experienced with building dikes and managing water, it’s the Netherlands,” says Geert Visser, the Dutch consul general in Houston.
In sharp contrast to Dutch preparedness before the fact and the Dutch instinct to dive into action once an emergency becomes apparent, witness the American reaction to the Dutch offer of help. The U.S. government responded with “Thanks but no thanks,” remarked Visser, despite BP’s desire to bring in the Dutch equipment and despite the no-lose nature of the Dutch offer –the Dutch government offered the use of its equipment at no charge. Even after the U.S. refused, the Dutch kept their vessels on standby, hoping the Americans would come round. By May 5, the U.S. had not come round. To the contrary, the U.S. had also turned down offers of help from 12 other governments, most of them with superior expertise and equipment –unlike the U.S., Europe has robust fleets of Oil Spill Response Vessels that sail circles around their make-shift U.S. counterparts.
Why does neither the U.S. government nor U.S. energy companies have on hand the cleanup technology available in Europe? Ironically, the superior European technology runs afoul of U.S. environmental rules. The voracious Dutch vessels, for example, continuously suck up vast quantities of oily water, extract most of the oil and then spit overboard vast quantities of nearly oil-free water. Nearly oil-free isn’t good enough for the U.S. regulators, who have a standard of 15 parts per million — if water isn’t at least 99.9985% pure, it may not be returned to the Gulf of Mexico.
When ships in U.S. waters take in oil-contaminated water, they are forced to store it. As U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the official in charge of the clean-up operation, explained in a press briefing on June 11, “We have skimmed, to date, about 18 million gallons of oily water–the oil has to be decanted from that [and] our yield is usually somewhere around 10% or 15% on that.” In other words, U.S. ships have mostly been removing water from the Gulf, requiring them to make up to 10 times as many trips to storage facilities where they off-load their oil-water mixture, an approach Koops calls “crazy.”
The Americans, overwhelmed by the catastrophic consequences of the BP spill, finally relented and took the Dutch up on their offer — but only partly. Because the U.S. didn’t want Dutch ships working the Gulf, the U.S. airlifted the Dutch equipment to the Gulf and then retrofitted it to U.S. vessels. And rather than have experienced Dutch crews immediately operate the oil-skimming equipment, to appease labour unions the U.S. postponed the clean-up operation to allow U.S. crews to be trained.
A catastrophe that could have been averted is now playing out. With oil increasingly reaching the Gulf coast, the emergency construction of sand berns to minimize the damage is imperative. Again, the U.S. government priority is on U.S. jobs, with the Dutch asked to train American workers rather than to build the berns. According to Floris Van Hovell, a spokesman for the Dutch embassy in Washington, Dutch dredging ships could complete the berms in Louisiana twice as fast as the U.S. companies awarded the work. “Given the fact that there is so much oil on a daily basis coming in, you do not have that much time to protect the marshlands,” he says, perplexed that the U.S. government could be so focussed on side issues with the entire Gulf Coast hanging in the balance.
Then again, perhaps he should not be all that perplexed at the American tolerance for turning an accident into a catastrophe. When the Exxon Valdez oil tanker accident occurred off the coast of Alaska in 1989, a Dutch team with clean-up equipment flew in to Anchorage airport to offer their help. To their amazement, they were rebuffed and told to go home with their equipment. The Exxon Valdez became the biggest oil spill disaster in U.S. history–until the BP Gulf spill.

– Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe and author of The Deniers.

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100 Documentaries to Explore the Deep Ocean Online | Online Find the Right Online Class Match

The ocean is one of the final unexplored areas of the earth, with many mysteries still lying just below the surface. These documentaries will teach you things beyond your online classes and help you to see the creatures and processes that make the ocean such an amazing place. Read through this list to get movies, TV shows and clips to help you explore the ocean deep while staying on dry land.

The link below leads to a huge amount of exploration information for your own exploration.

Historic ATB Partnership between Taisei Engineering of Tokyo Japan and Bludworth Cook Marine of Houston Texas

The two oldest ATB SYSTEMS IN THE WORLD are joined now to provide sales, service and support in the United States for the ATB systems manufactured by Taisei Engineering of Japan.

Since 1972 Taisei Engineering has sold 245 ATB units worldwide, more than all other ATB manufacturers in the world combined.  Their ATB systems are divided into two series — 2-pin supporting articulate connection ARTICOUPLE, similar to those manufactured in the United States, and 3-pin supporting rigid connection TRIOFIX — and, though the latter series TRIOFIX is not found in the United States for the moment, this series, combined with a special hull-design technique developed by Mr. Yamaguchi of Taisei, can realize much higher speed with smaller engine power with less emission and is expected to make economical contribution to the ATB operators and ecological contribution to the society at the same time.

Mr. Yamaguchi and Richard and Robert Bludworth were both early pioneers of ocean ATB pushing systems, both starting on opposite sides of the world developing their designs in the 1960’s. Articouple and Trioflex ATB systems are now available with full service support in the USA by Richard Bludworth and John Cook and their respective organizations Bludworth Marine LLC and Bludworth Cook Marine Inc.

Performance increase of 23.5 per cent after propulsion upgrade

According to MAN Diesel Fredrikshavn, Denmark, changing the propulsion equipment of a vessel can make a substantial difference in bollard pull, speed and overall efficiency. In a on a Danish trawler, bollard pull was increased by 23.5 per cent and fuel consumption reduced by around 12 per cent. As propeller and nozzle designs have improved, they suggest that propellers and nozzles over ten years old can benefit from an upgrade. In an upgrade of the 1986 Danish launched F/V Jette Kristine, powered by an MAN 8L23/30-D diesel engine of 1080 kW. After sea trials including trawling a 0.5 kt speed increase and 15 per cent reduction in fuel consumption was reported, noise levels were noticeably quieter.

According to MAN Diesel Fredrikshavn, Denmark, changing the propulsion equipment of a vessel can make a substantial difference in bollard pull, speed and overall efficiency. In a conversion they carried out toward the end of last year on a Danish trawler, bollard pull was increased by a huge 23.5 per cent and fuel consumption reduced by around 12 per cent. Pointing out that propeller and nozzle designs have improved considerably over the years, they suggest that propellers and nozzles more than ten years old can benefit from an upgrade.

In the vessel tested, the 1986 Danish launched F/V Jette Kristine is powered by an eight cylinder four stroke MAN 8L23/30-D diesel engine rated at 1080 kW (1470 hp) at 825 rpm and drives a 2650 mm (104 in) diameter propeller via a reduction gear ratio of 3.8:1. In the test only the propeller and nozzle were changed: the nozzle is a double-curved type on both inner and outer diameter. The engine, reduction gear and test conditions were identical for the before and after harbor measurements. Later, after two sea trials, including actual trawling even better results were reported, according to the skipper of the vessel, he recorded a 0.5 kt speed increase and 15 per cent reduction in fuel consumption. Furthermore noise levels in the saloon and cabins were noticeably quieter adding to the comfort of the crew.

Posted by: Keith Henderson, Editor – Maritime Professional

Ballast Off a Sinking Ship: The Plot Thickens…

As individual states bicker over a myriad of different ballast water management protocols and the federal government inches forward in its quest for a national standard, the influx of invasive species continues. A unified global standard is possible before the end of 2010. Will it happen and – more importantly – if it does, will the balkanized U.S. approach to the problem end?

Two Steps Forward, One Back…
Midway through the first quarter of 2010, the pace has quickened noticeably in the national battle to control and eradicate invasive species and prevent still others from reaching U.S. waters. In the continued absence of an approved federal standard, as many as a dozen individual states have enacted or are actively contemplating their own statutes. Add to that mix the proposed federal standard announced by the U.S. Coast Guard in August 2009 and some industry observers are predicting a resolution of the issue before the end of the year. Good news, indeed, right? Not so fast…

The absence of a federal ballast water treatment (BWT) standard has been a nightmare for more than a decade. Frustrated by inaction on the federal level, individual states have separately enacted their own standards. The collective result has been a hodgepodge of balkanized state rules that – often in close proximity to one another and sometimes other countries – have had little or no effect on the effort to stem the tide of invasive species.

by:   March 25, 2010

Houston Shipping Channel Reopens to All After Tug Boat is Salvaged

At about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, a 54-foot tugboat named the J.R. Nichols, which belongs to Kinder Morgan, sank near the Sims Bayou turning basin.
Four people on board the ship were rescued by a boat from the Lyondell facility refinery. One man was reported missing.
“We have active docks on the Ship Channel. And so, we always have refinery workers out on the docks and it was one of those workers that observed the tug boat going down,” Lyondell spokesman Aaron Woods said. “Then, the Houston Fire Department transported them to Southeast Memorial Hermann Hospital.”
The four were treated for hypothermia and released, officials said.
Crews with the Houston-Galveston Coast Guard, a Houston Police Department dive team and others spent hours searching for the missing man. However, the weather hampered efforts.
“It affects the search and rescue, obviously. The visibility is a little less and at nighttime, it was less. We have plenty of boats, assets, helicopters out there helping with the search,” said Capt. James Whitehead with the U.S. Coast Guard.
Sources told KPRC Local 2 that a body was found Thursday afternoon and it is believed to be the missing man, whose name was not released.
Investigators said the tugboat is slowly leaking diesel fuel. About 1,000 gallons have leaked out, and there are about 10,000 gallons in the boat’s tanks, officials said.
The ship channel has been closed from the Vopak facility to Sims Bayou. About 10 boats are waiting to get in or out, officials said.
The Coast Guard said the effects on the port of Houston are minimal.
The cause of the sinking is under investigation. The boat may be raised on Friday or Saturday, officials said.

Here are some local news coverage links from

Bollinger Marine Fabricators Has Delivered the M 6000 a OPA’90 Compliant Tank Barge

From http://marinelink.comLockport, La., Bollinger Marine Fabricators, L.L.C., a Bollinger Shipyards, Inc. company, has delivered the M 6000, a 55,000 barrel (bbl) Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA’90) compliant tank barge, to Midstream Fuel Service, L.L.C., a wholly owned subsidiary of Martin Resource Management Corporation.  Contract terms and conditions were not disclosed.

The 55,000 bbl tank barge, M 6000, was built at Bollinger Marine Fabricators, L.L.C., in Amelia, La. and is a Bollinger design.  The M 6000 is a clean oil barge that is classed and certified ABS + A1 Oil Tank Barge, Manned Ocean Services. The barge measures 350 ft long, with a 70-ft beam and a depth of 25 ft.  The barge is built to meet the requirements of OPA’90, with ten cargo compartments and two separate pumping systems.  The barge is outfitted with the Bludworth Cook Marine ATB Flexible Connection System.

Ruben Martin, President of Martin Resource Management Corporation said, “The Bollinger family’s heritage of quality engineering and construction are on display in the barge M 6000 and tug La Force. The barge was constructed in Bollinger’s Amelia yard and the tug, La Force, was converted with a new Bludworth/Cook system and raised pilot house in Bollinger’s Texas City yard. When these two units came together at the completion of the project it was like the fit of custom made boots.  Bravo, Bollinger!”

On departure from the Bollinger Marine Fabricators facility, the M 6000 entered the marine transportation services for petroleum products in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.  (