Potential fuel leaks from Kulluk lifeboats raised to 316 gallons

Lifeboats swept from Shell’s Kulluk drilling rig as it was battered by stormy seas could leak as much as 316 gallons of diesel fuel along an Alaskan island’s shores, officials said Thursday night, emphasizing that no leaks have been confirmed.

Officials previously had put the amount of potential leakage at 272 gallons.

Assessment crews discovered the potential for leaks while searching the shoreline on Sitkalidak Island near where the Kulluk conical drilling unit grounded on Dec. 31. Although the 266-foot rig has since been towed to sheltered Kiliuda Bay 30 miles away, some debris was left behind, including a rescue boat and four survival boats.

The Coast Guard’s calculation on possible spilled fuel is based on the capacity of tanks on the boats. While responders have determined one survival boat’s tank is intact, at least two have been damaged and another  is inaccessible, so its condition hasn’t been determined. The Coast Guard hasn’t reported on the status of the rescue boat’s tank.