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Fire alarm disrupts Kodiak meeting about Kulluk grounding

Lisa Demer

A community meeting in Kodiak on Wednesday evening about the grounding of Royal Dutch Shell's oil drilling rig, the Kulluk, was disrupted when a fire alarm went off and the Kodiak High School Commons was evacuated.

After about 20 minutes, the meeting resumed. The alarm went off because of dust in vents, a meeting moderator said.

The Kulluk, which began work on a single well in the Beaufort Seam during the short 2012 drilling season, grounded on Dec. 31 during a month-long journey from Dutch Harbor to the Seattle area, where it was headed for off-season maintenance and repairs. It had repeatedly lost towlines with various vessels during a fierce Gulf of Alaska storm. It was refloated Sunday night and anchored Monday in Kiliuda Bay on the southeast side of Kodiak Island.

A command team that included a Shell manager and a state Department of Environmental Conservation flew in from Anchorage for the community meeting.

Four survival boats and one rescue boat on the Kulluk were ripped off in the storm or when the Kulluk grounded and washed up on the shore of Sitkalidak Island, just south of Kodiak. Each survival boat carried a 68-gallon diesel fuel tank with diesel fuel, the command team said in a statement Wednesday evening. Responders have been told one tank is intact, two are damaged and one is inaccessible, the statement said. More than 200 gallons of diesel fuel may have spilled, the statement said. Response crews will assess the tanks once they can arrive on Sitkalidak, the command team said.

Also on Wednesday, an initial assessment of the Kulluk's hull by naval architects indicate it is sound, Sean Churchfield, Shell's operational manager for Alaska, told the Kodiak group.

Reach Lisa Demer at or 257-4390.