Ship with tons of lithium batteries remains holed up in Alaska bay as storm rages

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As a major winter gale spirals across the Gulf of Alaska, a freighter carrying over 800 metric tons of lithium batteries is remaining anchored in the shelter of Broad Bay.

The M/V Genius Star XI remains stable, anchored near Dutch Harbor, the Coast Guard reports. No current fires are detectable in the holds after a fire broke out last week as the ship crossed the Pacific from Asia to its destination of San Diego.

Assessment teams continue to conduct air monitoring on-site and ashore. Air quality remains normal and there is no indication of heat in or around the cargo holds, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

“The Unified Command remains committed to conducting this response safely and effectively,” said Capt. Chris Culpepper, captain of the port. “Our top priority continues to be the safety of the local community, the Genius Star XI and her crew, and our response personnel. We have dedicated teams of experts who continue to monitor air quality aboard the ship and ashore, including community-based air monitoring on shore in Dutch Harbor.”

The vessel remains on a prepositioned mooring buoy for weather avoidance based on a recommendation from an Alaska Marine Pilot and the Salvage Master aboard the vessel. To comply with the ongoing Captain of the Port Order, the vessel will keep its pilothouse manned, engines warm, and have a tug standing by to respond if the situation changes.  

Response resources and technical experts continue to be mobilized to the incident site but extreme weather in the vicinity of Dutch Harbor has resulted in flight delays. Members of the salvage team will remain onboard with the crew throughout the extreme weather to monitor the situation and respond as needed.  

A one-mile safety zone around the vessel remains in place. Mariners who wish to enter that zone must request permission on VHF Channel 16.   

The Unified Command, consisting of the Coast Guard Captain of the Port, Gallagher Marine Systems, and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, continues to work closely to coordinate response efforts on this incident.    

An investigation into the cause will take place once response efforts are complete.   

8 COMMENTS

  1. This is the most important fishing port in our country. If the hull is breached, what will be the environmental impact on the fisheries? Oil at least floats for the best part of recovery and can be pumped out now. But that other stuff who knows. Seems to be being downplayed. Bad place to park a now floating disaster. Evacuate the crew and send it back towards it’s point of origin on auto.

  2. So are EVs allowed on Alaska ferries, and if so have special protections been put in place so that a fire in one EVs battery cannot spread to the gas and diesel tanks of closely nearby vehicles as well as other combustible material on the ferry? What happens if an EV battery ignites when a ferry is in the Gulf or passing through Peril Strait?

    I will modestly suggest that this is an important question to the state administration and to ferry passengers.

    • Ev’s are allowed at this time. It will take a catastrophic failure resulting in death and or loss of a ship to get any change. USCG only recommends not transporting EV’s that have been involved in a flood. Or have sustained damage. Some ships are slowly coming up to speed on the subject, but not much training or equipment has been provided. Best thing to do would be to push them over the side into the ocean but that too also takes planning and training.

      • Hazardous material shipping rules always takes years to develop, since it is government controlled. A disaster always moves up the timetable. New technology moves much faster than the regulatory system.

    • “So are EVs allowed on Alaska ferries” I got news for ya, K2, Alaska Ferries will be EVs soon enough. They gotta waste money somewhere. And buses have caught on fire and haven’t killed anybody yet, right?

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