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By: joealaska , 3:56 AM GMT on July 09, 2012

OK. Very busy. Let’s move on.

The big story here is about the explosion on The Excellence Friday. I have not had the chance to hear what exactly happened. But I will. The result was a cloud of ammonia floating from the vessel down Ballyhoo Road across two of the busier docks in town. Not good. Potentially fatal.

This is a big boat who we work with regularly, including Friday. The boat was evacuated as was the immediate area. Two welders were flown to Anchorage for examination, but the captain told me they were walkin’ and talkin’. Not sure if the welders were part of the accident, or just victims working nearby.

After I heard about the accident I had a chance to glance down toward the dock and saw nothing, but it was some time since the accident. But later I did see a cloud coming from the area. Now a day later, I saw from a distance large fire hoses rinsing off the boat (like I said, it is a BIG boat, around 350 feet long). But it continues to be a local story. Police late TODAY were blocking Ballyhoo Road to inbound traffic, which directly affects us. Tomorrow morning we have a delivery to a boat down that road, as well as tomorrow night. A BIG delivery. The local radio said there will be road closures off and on over the weekend. Not sure why.

The cloud of ammonia also STOPPED the unloading of our already-late Friday vessel for 4 hours. But I called everyone and they all had a good attitude, WHAT CAN YOU DO? Dutch Harbor!

The wave of new vessels with Shell Oil are arriving. GREEN PEAS Esperanza came into City Dock and there was no huge riot. Now they are gone and off to The Pribilof Islands, then north to the oil fields in The Chukchi Sea northwest of Alaska. Now we have NOBLE DISCOVERER at anchor in the harbor. Our friends NANUQ are back, also at anchor. Then there is NORDICA, an impressive vessel with paint chipped on the bow I assume due to ice. More vessels are due soon, all BIG vessels.

KULLUK will not return, but will bypass Dutch Harbor on their way north.

We are trying to feed all of these new vessels.

SHELL is now having to deal with the still-present sea ice up north that screwed up the crab season. It has slowed down there plans to get vessels up north. That same late ice reflects what I am trying to beat getting over the PASS. It is a superlative year.

FOG is now rearing its ugly foggy head. Affecting flights. Saturday we had freight needing to LEAVE Dutch, so we chartered a plane. It was a big deal. We delivered the large crate in plenty of time to the airport. But the plane eventually turned around due to fog. Many flights were screwed up today. The DC-3 turned around and tried again today.

Today the plane (built in 1944) come in to take one piece of freight to Anchorage, then on to Seward. A roll of cable. It was only 1760 pounds, but would not fit in the door of the typical planes coming through here. The DC-3 was a big plane that could haul 4 times that weight. Plenty of extra room was left over.

We talked to the pilot. He had trubba getting in due to the rope of fog at both ends of the runway. After some plane posturing, he banked in steeply and got it down. We heard him flying around for some time, but could not see him, so we knew it was worse than it looked from the ground. They tried to fly in yesterday, but the fog won that battle. They circled for awhile then returned to Cold Bay and stayed the night at a rustic inn.

The weather has been great here. Sunny with big chunks of fog here and there.

Last weekend we chartered a DC-6 to bring in two 7000 pound motors for a big boat. These motors were not that big, just very dense in weight. Very. The widest dimension was about three feet.

That boat was waiting for delivery to fix a breakdown of equipment, in able to go fishing again. 125 people on board waiting to go to work. The motors pulled in the big trawl bag chock full o’ fish.

No pressure!

They easily fit in our wing truck, but the weight was maximum. My driver drove slowly out to OSI and got it done.

And they all lived happily ever after.

(This blog was written over several days so forgive me some of my past tenses / past pluperfects are messed up...)

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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11. dotmom
12:33 AM GMT on July 15, 2012
Here we are Ylee. Not much new here. We finally got a bit of rain this afternoon. A nice gentle rain for about an hour. Sat and watched it rain.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
10. Ylee
8:24 PM GMT on July 14, 2012
Where'd everybody go? I'm assuming Joe is up to his pits in produce and toilet paper....
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9. joealaska
4:06 PM GMT on July 11, 2012
Gate was still shut a few days ago.
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8. insideuk
1:56 PM GMT on July 11, 2012
Joe - has the gate at the base of the road up Ballyhoo been unlocked yet or should I forward you a metal nail file to fiddle with it?

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7. shoreacres
12:12 PM GMT on July 11, 2012
Never mind. I applied more coffee and figured it out. No problem!

Operator error is a wonderful thing. ;)
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6. shoreacres
12:09 PM GMT on July 11, 2012
What the devil's up with that video? I can't shut it off. Even if I close my browser, close the WU page, etc. Somebody give me a clue!
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5. cybersuze
4:47 AM GMT on July 10, 2012
Joe, looks like a lot going on!! Just let gnu know it was 108 today in Boy-c
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4. joealaska
1:47 AM GMT on July 10, 2012
There are also peoples voices...but hey, its from Korea.
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3. insideuk
1:45 PM GMT on July 09, 2012
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2. insideuk
1:28 PM GMT on July 09, 2012
The news has been updated whilst Pudden Head was busy squeezing elephants into microlight aircraft and getting them strapped down and everything...

The Excellence is said to have found a leaking valve in it's refrigeration systems whilst she was about 18 hours out of Dutch Harbor. The damaged area was sealed off and isolated whilst they came into port to find some 'ammonia certified' welders to make repairs. They call them hairdressers here I think. Two local guys went aboard with the ships chief engineer and when repairs were completed the systems were turned back on. It was only then that the major leakage occurred and all 3 men required medical attention as they became overwhelmed by fumes. The same thing happened to several of the first responders from the Unalaska emergency services.

The latest report says that the vessel was towed out to a mooring buoy in Wide Bay (7 miles NW of town - well away from inhabited areas) on Saturday evening – the Captain and 2 crew with special breathing apparatus stayed on board for the 4 hour tow. Further repairs will have to wait until fumes subside. The Captain estimates between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia has spilled inside the ship. One of the men taken to Anchorage was kept in for observation, the other was released on Saturday.

Is it just me or does 3 to 5 thousand pounds of ammonia sound like a mahoosive spill? Getting close to a lady with a few ounces of perming fluid on her head makes my eyes water. And that's without the added trubba of banks of fog to peg it down – atmospherically speaking.

Now, I had initially read that the Kulluk would bypass Unalaska and head directly north, but that report was superseded by further information which said that plans had changed and the Kulluk would now come back to Dutch to sit it out until the sea ice had receded some more. There was also an issue with the last few drill permits.

Always a permit issue. Wait 'til they want to burn something...

The last news I read was that my Kulluk Christmas tree shaped platform (now disappointingly painted blue if reports are to be believed) was due in town July 9th – TODAY. That assumes she hadn't encountered unfortunate conditions enroute. I doubt it takes much weather to make her a bloody nightmare of a tow job. The words 'spinning' and 'top' come to mind.

The Green Peas ship left town to have a look at the areas for which drilling is planned – to make notes on how it all appears PRE DRILL. They were aware that Shell plans had been put on hold a few more weeks, making it much less likely their paths will cross. At least for the time being.

If they are at a loose end and have some green peas paint spare then I can find them a worthwhile job.

BLUE. Who had that stupid idea? Speaking past-perfectishously and yet still quite tense-like.

It's dry right now.

Won't last.
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1. osdianna
4:25 AM GMT on July 09, 2012
You know that ole saying, "It never rains but it pours!" That surely does go for Dutch. So many things dependent on the weather, and we know how that can go.

After 4 days of sunshine and high 60's, we also had fog today. But the 80's inland brought tons of people out here for the day.

Stay safe.
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