Is Hawaii prepared for a major oil spill?

Is Hawaii prepared for a major oil spill?
Airborne Dispersant Delivery System, or 'ADDS'
Airborne Dispersant Delivery System, or 'ADDS'
Kim Beasley
Kim Beasley

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU HARBOR (HawaiiNewsNow) - A big money promise of $20 billion - that's how much BP has agreed to pay the victims of the Gulf oil spill.

And the pledge came with an apology from the company's big boss.

As we look a mile under the gulf, there's a new estimate from the government.

Officials now believe more than 100 million gallons of oil have spilled since April.

A disaster of this scope is unlikely in Hawaii but the state is always on standby for cleanup duty.

Oil response teams say Hawaii has $30 million worth of technology designed to clean up spills, including one tool that is so advanced, there are only six others in the world.

It's called an Airborne Dispersant Delivery System, or 'ADDS', and Hawaii has the newest one.

"The Coast Guard has a C-130 that's capable of flying this tank. The ADDS tank is a 5,000 gallon tank that is custom-designed to fit in a C-130, so we maintain it," said Kim Beasley, General Manager of the Clean Islands Council.

That tank stores a chemical that breaks down oil into droplets, which helps keep oil slicks from reaching the shoreline.

"There's only seven ADDS packs in the world. They're spread out all over the world and we're lucky to have one," said Beasley.

The Clean Islands Council is a non-profit dedicated to battling oil spills in Hawaii.

The group oversees a vessel docked at Pier 35 at Honolulu Harbor.

Within two hours, it can respond to a spill at Barbers Point.

That's where the danger zone is.

Hawaii gets its oil transferred there from tankers.

This boat is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

And it's designed for the worst case scenario - the loss of a tanker.

"We have a dedicated command center that is ready to go at any given time and that's rare. I mean, you're talking a handful in the world," said Beasley.

Hawaii's last major oil spill was in 1989 at Barbers Point.

The Exxon Houston was unloading 500,000 barrels of crude oil, when a hose broke.

800 of the barrels leaked into the ocean, and onto the shoreline.

More recently, in May 2006, 2,000 gallons of oil from the Front Sunda spilled at Barbers Point.

A coupling in the oil line separated.

It probably won't be Hawaii's last oil spill, but since we don't have oil rigs like they do off the mainland, any spills here are relatively small and quickly contained.

"We don't have any potential like they have in the Gulf," said Beasley.

The Clean Islands Council says it is one of the few organizations in the country that trains aerial observation for oil response.

Beasley says the reason they go the extra mile is because Hawaii is a long way from getting help.

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