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Oil Pumped From Grounded Freighter

February 21, 1999

COOS BAY, Ore. (AP) _ In an attempt to prevent further damage to a once pristine stretch of coast, salvage crews on Saturday began pumping gooey fuel oil from a grounded freighter into storage tanks on the beach.

The operation, which began about 6 p.m., was expected to last into early Sunday morning, said Frank Reed, spokesman for the joint operations center set up by the Coast Guard, federal and state agencies.

``Everything is going smoothly,″ Reed said.

A smooth operation would be a welcome change for the salvage effort, which has been plagued by bad weather, broken equipment and environmentally-costly delays since the New Carissa grounded Feb. 4 and began leaking oil.

The latest glitch came Friday, when after a day of hurried preparations, crews were too exhausted to begin pumping as planned.

Huge pumps were set to drain the remaining 135,000 gallons of fuel oil off the Japanese-owned ship beginning at evening low tide. Some of the black oil has already fouled some of the most environmentally sensitive beaches in Oregon.

The New Carissa ran aground about two miles north of the entrance to Coos Bay, where the captain had been waiting for a break in the weather to pick up a load of wood chips for Japan.

A week after the ship ran aground, a Navy explosives team set it afire with napalm in an attempt to consume the fuel on board. Heavy seas broke the fire-weakened hull in two later that night, but only half of the 400,000 gallons of oil aboard burned up.

Up to 70,000 gallons have spilled, shutting down four oyster farms inside Coos Bay and washing up tar balls as far up the coast as the Siltcoos River, about 25 miles north.

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