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Sunday, July 10, 2005



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U.S. COAST GUARD PHOTO BY LT. JG ROBERT MOOMAW
The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Walnut inspected hoses for leaks during operations to remove fuel from the Casitas yesterday at the Pearl and Hermes Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The vessel ran aground on the atoll on July 2.




Fuel removal begins
for grounded ship

The Coast Guard has begun removing fuel and oil from a 145-foot ship that ran aground in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a week ago.

The Coast Guard cutter Walnut started removing the fuel yesterday morning and by early afternoon had unloaded more than 10 percent of the diesel fuel from the vessel Casitas.

The motor vessel American Quest was to be on scene today to assist the crew of the Walnut with the fuel unloading.

The Coast Guard is removing the fuel to lighten the Casitas so it can be removed from the reef.

Coast Guard C-130 aircraft are continuing daily flights to monitor the scene for any new developments. There has been no discernible sheen on the water since Monday.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service observers aboard the Walnut have reported no oiled wildlife within the immediate area of the Casitas.

No injuries were reported when the debris cleanup ship carrying some 30,000 gallons of diesel fuel, 3,000 gallons of gasoline and 200 gallons of lubricating oil hit Pearl and Hermes Atoll for unknown reasons on July 2. The atoll is located 86 miles from Midway Island, or about 1,000 miles northwest of Honolulu.

A dive company is conducting a hull assessment on the grounded ship.

The crew of the Casitas was flown to Oahu aboard a Coast Guard C-130 aircraft on Wednesday. Meanwhile, shipboard assessments were initiated by the Coast Guard National Strike Force Team Pacific, a team specializing in marine environmental response.

The ship was picking up fishing nets and other debris in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, which extend about 1,200 miles from the main Hawaiian Islands.

The archipelago is a national wildlife refuge and a breeding ground for endangered monk seals. A quarter of the species that live at the atoll are found nowhere else on earth.



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