Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 9:18 PM on Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Crane rollover temporarily shuts down fuel dock

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

A crane rollover at Petro Marine's harbor fuel dock Friday morning has temporarily closed the dock. Until it is reopened, the fuel dock on the north side of the harbor entrance is open for business from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily, said Rod McLay, Petro Marine's plant foreman.

The rollover happened when a gust of wind caught the 110 feet of an extended boom on a truck-mounted 22-ton crane, flipping it on its side and wedging the boom against the fuel dock. One of the boom truck's four stabilizers caught in the roof of a structure at the top of the ramp to the dock.

"It was a bad-case scenario where a lot of things happened the best they could have," said McLay. "The truck didn't end up on the dock, no one got hurt and not a drop of fuel was spilled."

Cecil Cheatwood of Mr. C. Construction of Homer, who has had the crane for only a couple of months, was operating it with controls on the outside of the truck. The reach of the boom was being tested to see if it could remove a small crane from the fuel dock that needed sandblasting.

"Basically, we were trying to determine if that truck was able to do that job," said McLay.

"I think we can all attest it can't. It never even hooked up to the crane. All they were doing was stretching (the boom) out to see if they could reach that far when the gust of wind hit the crane."

While McLay didn't see the rollover, Jeffrey Allen did.

"I actually was looking right over there when the truck flipped over," he said. "I thought it was tumbling straight down into the water, but when the boom hit (the dock), it stopped it."

Judging by what he'd seen, Allen's first concern was for the wellbeing of the crane operator.

"I thought it might not be good, but (Cheatwood) was sitting on a rock, talking on the phone when I got there," he said. "I asked if anybody was hurt and he said no, just his pride."

Homer Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins noted a fast and skilled response to the incident.

"Once again, this town amazes me. It's really remarkable the people that showed up to help work the problem," he said of longshoremen, riggers and personnel from Homer Electric Association, the Homer Volunteer Fire Department and Homer Police Department.

Lifting the crane with its extended boom out of the upside-down position was done with the assistance of a 100-ton crane owned by North Star Terminal and Stevedore Company.

"It took some fancy rigging and some real good work on their crane. The (operator) was real smooth," said McLay. "They brought in the big crane able to life that whole boom truck in one piece. Riggers found central places to attach picking points. We brought in a boat from the harbor, the Kittiwake, that came alongside the dock and used their crane to relieve the stress on the very end of the boom. All these components, people working together using their skills to address the problem and successfully remove the crane."

No fuel was slipped. Some hydraulic fuel leaked from the truck, but none reached the harbor according to Cheatwood and Hawkins. Boom was placed in the water around the area as a safeguard.

"We're trying to determine what has to be replaced or what has to be repaired," said McLay. "We disconnected some pipelines at the dock to make it easier to lift the crane. We won't connect them until we inspect for any damage."

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.