Oil tanker runs aground for 2nd time at same spot

Oil tanker runs aground for 2nd time at same spot

A tanker carrying 672,000 gallons of home heating oil ran aground in East Rockaway Inlet, the second time in less than two years that the same barge has run aground in the same area, U.S. Coast Guard officials said.

The self-propelled Kristin Poling ran aground Friday on sandy bottom at the entry point to Reynolds Channel about 450 yards from shore, said Petty Officer Annie Berlin, a Coast Guard spokeswoman.

No oil spilled, officials said, and based on helicopter flights over the area, a possible leak did not appear to be a threat. None of the seven people on board the 281-foot coastal tanker were injured.

The same barge ran aground there on Dec. 3, 2004, while carrying about 756,000 gallons of home heating oil, prompting temporary restrictions on fuel barges in the area. As a result of that incident, barges were required to carry lighter loads, said Coast Guard Commander Bob McKenna.

About a month before the 2004 incident, the Coast Guard reported that the Kristin Poling again ran aground in Newark Bay while on its way to Oceanside.

Representatives from New Jersey-based Poling & Cutler Marine Transportation, Inc., which owns the vessel, declined to comment.

Workers on Friday began unloading about 20 percent of the ship’s load in the hope of floating it out of the shoal.

“The plan is to take some of the product off and that will raise the barge out of the water,” said McKenna, chief of response for Sector Long Island Sound, based in New Haven, Conn. Tugboats were nearby, poised to pull the barge.

The cause of Friday’s incident is under investigation, McKenna said. It was unclear if the 2004 grounding was related.

McKenna pointed out that the inlet changes frequently based on weather. Big weather systems, such as the rainstorm earlier in the week, could have changed the bottom’s contour.

The channel is a major route for fuel tankers serving southern Nassau through Oceanside, but it is only 12 feet deep and requires frequent dredging. But McKenna said it’s likely the inlet shoaled up in the interim.

At around dusk on Friday, the stuck barge could be seen from the beach at Silver Point County Park.

Fisherman Tony Roman, 63, of Lindenwood, watched as crew members walked on the ship’s deck. “They’re going to be there a while,” he said.

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