Fallen cargo container awaits rescue rig from Dillingham
This week Alaska Marine Services waited in Nome for a barge and crane to head into Nome’s harbor from Dillingham after a forklift driver had a bad day on Sunday at Port of Nome’s high ramp. No one was injured in the accident, but the equipment driver ended up wet to the waist and lost his cell phone.
Company staff and Nome’s harbor officials hope the crane will be able to hoist a 20-foot shipping container from where it perches atop an almost submerged loader between the port’s high ramp and the ramp of another AMS cargo barge, the Greta.
He got the call about the mishap around 11:00 a.m. Sunday, Assistant Harbormaster Chris Schuneman said on Monday.
AMS staff said the 20-foot container went into the drink during transfer from the high ramp onto the vessel. The container has a rated capacity of 44,000 pounds and contains contaminated soil headed south for safe disposal. The dirt comes from required reclamation of land slated for transfer from the U.S. Airforce to the City of Nome for port expansion.
The way he got it, Schuneman explained, was that the unloading of cargo from the Greta caused the barge to rise in the water, thus changing the angle of the vessel’s ramp and move it away from where it had been lined up with the shoreside high ramp.
Sunday afternoon many observers had seen the soft white “sausage” boom surrounding the accident scene and white absorbent “diapers” afloat where the loader sat beneath the container.
On Monday, port staff added a hard yellow boom as an additional safety measure against spread of any lubricating oil, hydraulic fluids and fuel rising from the modified loader, according to Schuneman.
The container appears to have landed with its opening flaps downward, cutting off the option of emptying the container for easier retrieval. A crane owned by gold mining outfit Phoenix Marine was “cabled wrong” for the job, Schuneman said.
Schuneman expected the high ramp to be cleared within the week. Until then, vessels could transfer freight across the port’s other earlier constructed barge ramp.
Schuneman hopes the high ramp will be available soon.
“Some people got so used to the better convenience of the high ramp with deeper water, they won’t be happy to use the other ramp,” he said.
Appropriate environmental protection agencies have been notified.