Tuesday, January 17, 2012
The crew of a Russian tanker is now unloading more than a million gallons of fuel, into a pair of hoses that are each 700 yards long.
The fuel -- first gasoline and then diesel -- is being delivered to the city of Nome, Alaska, after the ship made its way across 5,000 miles of high seas and then thick ice. The transfer, which began near sundown yesterday, could take as long as five days.
Officials say the transfer had to start during daylight hours, but it can continue in darkness. This time of year, Nome has just five hours of daylight.
The city of 3,500 people didn't get its last pre-winter fuel delivery by barge because of a massive November storm. Without this delivery, Nome would run out of fuel by March or April.
Every 30 minutes, personnel will walk the entire length of hosing, checking for leaks.
Even after the fuel delivery, the mission isn't over. The Russian ship and the Coast Guard icebreaker that cleared a path for it will have to maneuver their way back out through the ice.
Alaska has had one of its most severe winters in decades, with snow piling up 10 feet or higher against the wood-sided buildings in Nome.