Fuel Flowing in Nome
Reporter Ben Matheson, on scene in Nome, reports that TV Renda began pumping fuel to Nome just before sunset today. With five hours of daylight available to workers, yesterday and today were spent preparing for this moment.
The Renda is about 700 yards from the Nome causeway and the fuel header on the causeway. A path through the ice had to be made, the segments of the hoses involved laid out and then joined, and the hoses had to be pressure tested.
Stacey Smith, speaking for the fuel contractor Vitus Marine by telephone, provided some important details.
The Russian tanker, TV Renda, is carrying about 1.4 million gallons of ultra low sulfur arctic grade diesel and gasoline. The majority of the cargo, around 1 million gallons, is the diesel. It can be used for vehicles, generators and even for heating. It is designed to reduce emissions and to remain fluid under most arctic conditions. Ordinary diesel will turn to gel at the temperatures seen in Nome in the last week.
Smith indicated that two four inch diameter hoses will be used. One product will be unloaded and then the other. The state of Alaska and other authorities mandated that pumping begin in daylight, but it can continue around the clock after that point. Vitus Marine employees will be patrolling the 2,100 feet of house every thirty minutes on foot to search for leaks or other issues. Each segment joint is in a prepared containment area.
Unloading the Renda may take as much as forty-eight hours. There are about six Vitus employees on scene in Nome and another six elsewhere actively involved in this operation. Vitus supplies fuel by sea throughout Alaska and has ongoing operations in southern Alaska which is free of pack ice. The firm did not have the contract for the last fuel barge, which was unable to reach Nome due to the early development of the ice pack. They were successful in developing the solution now being used, using a chartered Russian ice tanker to supply the beleaguered city.
Receiving the fuel is Bonanza Fuel, Inc., a company owned and operated by the Sitnasuak Native Corporation (SNC). Bonanza is just one of several fuel companies that utilize the shared header on Nome’s causeway.
January 2, 2012: Russians Sail to Rescue of Ice Bound Alaska Community
January 9, 2012: Relief Nears Nome as U.S. Icebreaker Opens Sea Lane
January 13, 2012: Fuel Convoy Reaches Nome
January 15, 2012: Fuel Supplies Reach Nome
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