Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tragedy on the R/V Russell W. Peterson

One crew member of the Research Vessel Russell W. Peterson died yesterday in a storm that generated winds of up to 50 miles per hour. The vessel's two crew members were rescued by the Coast Guard and taken to a hospital, where one was pronounced dead. The boat washed up on the shore south of Rehoboth.
The R/V Russell W. Peterson is owned and operated by Aqua Survey, Inc., which uses such vessels for marine survey research in the Gulf of Mexico. The Peterson was dedicated on March 29, and dispatched on its mission to study bird migration patterns as part of the permitting process required to build a wind power facility off the Delaware coast.
The News Journal reports that
Coast Guard Petty Officer Nick Cangemi believes that the vessel may have broken one of its three adjustable legs:
The Peterson is a type of boat that can raise itself out of the water on supporting legs, or "spuds."
"It was reported that the spuds were down and one had broken," Cangemi said. "Whether or not they were actively engaged [in moving] I have no idea."
Both of the crew members were captains. Aqua Survey, Inc. would not release the names of the crew members pending family notification.
This tragedy reminds us that modern life brings with it dangerous work. 112 workers died building Hoover Dam. Even with today's stricter safety standards, utility workers continue to risk their lives while building and maintaining the electric grid that powers our toasters and televisions. But yesterday's tragedy should not be considered evidence that the proposed wind power installation is inherently dangerous. The vulnerability of a 65 foot research vessel does not reflect on the structural integrity of the large fixed towers to be built off the coast.
Ironically, Governor Peterson, who was notified of the crew member's death, published an op-ed in today's News Journal
urging that the wind farm and the Sustainable Energy Utility both move forward:
We need to run with both of our opportunities -- the Sustainable Energy Utility and the wind plant. Unfortunately, leaders with conflicts of interest are fighting the wind plant, widely exaggerating its costs. The leader of both the sustainable energy utility and the state Senate committee on energy, Sen. Harris McDowell, is one. Another is Delmarva Power and its parent company, Pepco Holding. Their conglomerate is in the business of burning fossil fuels to produce electricity, and see Bluewater Wind as a competitor.
The timing of the op-ed was, of course, sadly coincidental.
Unless we decide as a civilization to unplug ourselves from the grid, we will be faced with the question of how to provide energy in the safest way possible for the environment, and for the workers who keep us connected.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for Gov. Peterson for calling out McDowell, Pepco and Delmarva Power on their complicity. There is a serious message here to the top leaders in the Democratic party: You're losing supporters every day while you putz around and put off a decision. Stop hiding in your offices. One way or the other, bring the wind contract to a vote. No more delays.

9:26 AM, May 13, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, God. I'm sorry to hear that. I remember the christening of the ship. So soon. Good lord.

12:28 PM, May 13, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in Bethany this morning checking it out:


Feel free to use the pics.

3:55 PM, May 13, 2008  

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