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Monday, June 17, 2024


Local Firm Working on Gulf Oil Spill


By Jack Fichter

CLERMONT – A local firm, Northstar Marine/Environmental has sent a crew to the Gulf of Mexico to assist in the cleanup of the giant oil spill following a British Petroleum drilling rig explosion that ruptured a well and is spreading 210,000 gallons of oil per day.
Capt. Phil Risko is president of Northstar and also known by thousands of local boaters as owner of the local Sea Tow franchise. Risko told the Herald he sent local crewmembers and captains to skimming vessels that are removing oil from the open gulf.
The crews are working 12-hour shifts and remain on board the skimming vessels. Risko said the crews will rotate out every two to four weeks.
He said he anticipated sending more crewmembers from this area to the gulf spill. Some of the firm’s smaller vessels that can be transported by trailer may go to the gulf, said Risko.
He said he expected to go the scene in the near future.The oil spill could float in the gulf for an extended period of time and end up on shorelines from Florida to Texas, said Risko.
He said he connected to the huge spill through an oil spill boat in Cape May his company crews which is owned by the National Response Corporation (NRC). Risko said the boats his staff will be crewing in the gulf also belong to NRC.
“They asked us to go down to their other vessels,” he said.
Risko said he believed his crew would be on scene in the gulf for several months. He said his crews were involved with the Athos I oil spill in 2004 working on scene for six months. The Athos 1, a 750-foot, single-hull tanker, had its hull punctured by a submerged pipe in the Delaware River.
The gulf spill may be unique. Risko said most of the spills in recent times have been the result of shipping incidents with a finite amount of oil which reaches the shoreline where cleanup work begins.
Risko has been in the marine environmental business since 1990. He said he entered the spill cleanup business when he purchased equipment from a friend who was leaving the business.
Risko said he realized he could utilize Sea Tow boats in the off season for spill work. He said there have been very few marine spills prior to the gulf accident due to regulations and safety equipment. Northstar also does oil clean ups on land, he said.
On May 2, Environmental Protection Agency Chief Lisa Jackson said capping the leak is a challenge because it is located 5,000 feet under water.

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