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Fuel transfer to snowed-in Alaska town to begin

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The tanker arrived, carrying 1.3 million gallons of petroleum products
  • Workers are in the process of laying the hose down, the mayor says
  • The voyage is a first

(CNN) -- Officials hope to see the transfer of much-needed fuel from a Russian tanker to the snowed-in Alaskan town of Nome as early as Monday.

"It's a good feeling. We're halfway there," Nome Mayor Denise Michels said late Sunday night.

"Our main concern was, of course, to have the delivery and the transfer done safely. So, now, they're in the process of laying the hose down."

Michels is hopeful that fuel will begin going through the line Monday.

"We're pretty excited," she said.

The fuel tanker Renda arrived Saturday night, carrying 1.3 million gallons of petroleum products.

U.S Coast Guard ice breaker Cutter Healy accompanied the tanker, breaking through almost 300 miles of ice for the tanker on a journey that took them through southern Alaska's Aleutian Islands.

A company in Nome contracted the Renda to deliver the fuel after ice formed over the Bering Sea following a ferocious November storm that prevented the last delivery of the season via barge.

The town has enough fuel to last until about March, but the delivery was attempted now because it would have been more difficult then, said Coast Guard Capt. Craig Lloyd, who is coordinating the mission.

Officials considered flying in fuel, but it would have taken more than 300 flights, each carrying 4,000 to 5,000 gallons, to meet the town's needs, said Jason Evans, chairman of Sitnasuak Native Corp.

The voyage is the first-ever attempt to supply fuel to an Arctic Alaska settlement through sea ice.

 
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