April 27, 2004
The investigation began Friday night after an anonymous caller alleged that the vessel's oily wastewater system was not operational. The Tustumena, an Alaska Marine Highways System vessel, typically operates between Dutch Harbor and Valdez, transporting passengers and cargo.
Following the call, two Coast Guard inspectors from Marine Safety Office Valdez boarded the ship in Cordova to investigate the system. A preliminary investigation revealed that the Tustumena carried no oil content meter for containment of oily wastewater. Based on the preliminary findings, the captain of the port (COTP) decided to detain the vessel and halt its transportation itinerary for safety and environmental reasons.
The oily water separator is a piece of pollution prevention equipment required under an international maritime agreement to prevent pollution from ships. A properly working OWS will sound an alarm and shut down the discharge valve when the sensor detects more than 15 parts per million of oil in the discharge water.
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