Huge nitrogen tank rolls into sea near BP's Cherry Point Refinery

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @gchittimK5

KING5.com

Posted on December 9, 2011 at 10:14 AM

Updated Friday, Dec 9 at 8:29 PM

FERNDALE, Wash. -- A 140-foot long cylindrical tank of nitrogen that fell into the Salish Sea early Friday poses no risk of explosion, Coast Guard and other emergency response officials said.

But the large tank, which fell off a barge near Ferndale en route to the BP Cherry Point Refinery, poses a risk to navigation and recovering the 950,000 pound tank will be a tricky matter. Responders are waiting for cranes to arrive before beginning the recovery.

Coast Guard officials said a tug-pulled barge was hauling the tank to the BP refinery when it ran into problems. The tank rolled into the water about 200 yards off Neptune Beach. Ferndale is about six miles north of Bellingham.

There was no leak, and the nitrogen poses no environmental threat. USCG Petty Officer Nathan Bradshaw said one worker suffered a leg injury in the accident.

BP Cherry Point spokesman Bill Kidd said he hopes the refinery will still be able to use the 12-foot diameter vessel, which used in making low-sulfur diesel. The tank is made of stainless steel and weighs 475 tons and is worth several million dollars.

The cylinder was left partially floating in shallow water off a beach about a mile south of the refinery.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
 

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