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 HICKSVILLE, N.Y., Aug. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- A unique anti-pollution feature of the Bouchard oil barge and quick thinking by the barge and tug boat crews were the principal reasons that Tuesday's spill in the Bay of Tampa did not turn into a catastrophe, Morton S. Bouchard, III said today.
 "All of our barges delivering oil to Florida's electrical power plants are fitted with a special pollution control system which enables us to quickly empty a ruptured tank and greatly limit damage to the environment," Bouchard said.
 "Also, the crews on both vessels reacted immediately and decisively to stabilize the barge, move it away from the fire and stop the flow of oil. Had it not been for their professionalism and calm in the face of danger, we would have had a much worse situation," he said.
 Mr. Bouchard made his assessment after visiting the spill response staging area at Fort Desoto park and meeting with wildlife rescue groups, and company executives met with the Coast Guard and interviewed the tug and barge crews.
 After the clean-up operation entered its second day, Bouchard's spill response teams has deployed more than 20,000 feet of boom and mobilized some 204 anti-pollution workers.
 Bouchard's ocean-going petroleum barges are fitted with a unique "overhead pumping system" which can empty cargo tanks by using a discharge hose that is lowered into the tanks rather than the traditional method of having a single hose at the bottom.
 "This system, which we designed, permits us to quickly empty the tank from above the site of the rupture which also reduces pressure of the oil leaking," Mr. Bouchard said.
 "In addition, we always keep two tanks empty when we bring fuel oil into Florida ports just to have the capability to quickly shift cargo out of a damaged tank," he said. "Obviously, we don't plan to have an accident, but we do plan for emergencies."
 "The crews periodically rehearse this procedure and yesterday these drills paid off. Both captains -- Bob West and Gary Northrup -- and their crews responded professionally."
 Earlier today, Mr. Bouchard met with Lee Fox, director of the Pinellas Seabird Rehabilitation Center; Jan Vorhees, principal planner of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council; and Robert H. Baker, Jr., manager of the Egmont Key State Park.
 "While we are obviously concerned about the possibility of any oil hitting the beaches, we want to give priority to areas where birds and other wildlife might be affected," Mr. Bouchard said. "Today we concluded an agreement with Pinellas Seabird Rehabilitation Center provided them with some funds to assist them to continue their rescue efforts.
 -0- 8/11/93
 /CONTACT: Bouchard Transportation Co., Inc., 516-681-4900, or fax 516-681-4905, or Crisis Consultants, Inc., 203-363-7878, or fax, 203-363-7888/

CO: Bouchard Transportation Company, Inc. ST: Florida, New York IN: MAR SU:

TM -- NY105 -- 1909 08/11/93 18:11 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 11, 1993

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