Friday, September 14, 2012
Photos courtesy of Bill Smith
Although it was a Chinese heavy-lift vessel that brought the “Endeavour” jack-up rig to Kachemak Bay from Singapore, the rig might have carried its own unique cargo.
Brian Smith of the Peninsula Clarion reports this week that officials with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are concerned about the possibility of invasive species arriving in Cook Inlet with the Endeavor rig.
Officials confirmed Wednesday they have been communicating with the rig’s owner, Buccaneer Energy, about what organisms might have still been attached to the rig when it was brought north August 24th.
Homer resident Larry Smith toured the rig a few weeks ago and plucked a small shell he said appears to be a foreign oyster off one of the rig’s legs and brought it to the attention of Bay Research Reserve staff. Smith said the shell was “one of thousands” in the area where he found it.
Tammy Davis, a Juneau-based Fish and Game biologist who leads the department’s invasive species program, said the department offered to assist Buccaneer by taking samples of any organisms on the jack-up rig and identifying them.
In response, Buccaneer hired a private biologist from a consulting agency to do that task. Davis says Fish and Game has requested the results of those samples and biological analysis be forwarded to them for further review.
Buccaneer issued a statement late Wednesday through Jay Morakis of public relations firm JMR Worldwide saying the company considered environmental safety a “top priority” and it would “never knowingly do anything to compromise it.”
Morakis says that Initial findings show that (there) is no issue with invasive species and that Buccaneer will issue the final results upon its completion.
Davis said Fish and Game officials are still considering what it would do if the organism found were indeed an invasive species and could pose a threat to the environment. Fish and Game’s upper management has been in contact with the state attorney general’s office, she said, to “find out what its authorities are.”
Davis said she isn’t sure if any organisms attached to the rig could have survived the weeks they were out of the water in transport from Singapore — that would depend on the specific species.
In an email to KBBI News and other media outlets last week, Morakis announced a “dedication ceremony” would take place aboard the Endeavor Monday evening at 6 p.m. but no cameras will be allowed on board and certain parts of the rig would be off-limits to reporters.
Morakis said in the email – quote – “Buccaneer wants to control the footage to make sure the photos are as 'nice' as possible.”
Because of those restrictions, KBBI News will not be attending the dedication ceremony. We will, of course, continue to report on the activities of Buccaneer Energy and the Endeavor jack-up rig.