December 12, 2004

Hyannis Harbor fouled by spill

HYANNIS - A man suffered an apparent heart attack while refueling a ferry yesterday, causing one of the largest fuel spills in Hyannis Harbor's recent history.

Jim Bracken, a worker with Clean Harbors, removes diesel fuel from Hyannis Harbor yesterday. Crews were expected to work throughout the night to clean up the spill.
(Staff photo by STEVE HEASLIP)

About 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel flowed into the water before dawn yesterday, after a Scudder-Taylor Oil Co. employee apparently had a fatal heart attack while fueling Hy-Line Cruise's GRAY LADY Motor Vessel, according to authorities.

The GRAY LADY's first mate arrived for work and found Scudder-Taylor employee Kurt Garland, 48, of Hyannis lying in a pool of diesel fuel on the GRAY LADY's port side deck.

The fuel was still flowing into the harbor, said Sgt. Sean Sweeney, Barnstable Police Department's spokesman.

The first mate called police at 5:15 a.m. Garland, father of two daughters, was later pronounced dead at nearby Cape Cod Hospital.

The ferry's tank had filled up at about 1,450 gallons and then about 2,000 more gallons of No. 2 diesel overflowed into the harbor, Fire Chief Harold Brunelle said.

The spill blocked boat traffic all day. The Woods Hole, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority and Hy-Line canceled trips to Nantucket for the day. Service from Hyannis is expected to resume today.

Hy-Line makes five runs a day to Nantucket this time of year.

An unknown number of Steamship Authority passengers were diverted to Woods Hole. Passengers then had to be bused to Hyannis to pickup their cars, said Greg Gifford, the Steamship Authority port captain.

"We had a large group coming from Nantucket," he said. "But I don't know how many."

The spill, regulations
Fire officials could not say yesterday whether all fueling regulations had been observed, but they said they would investigate whether any violations took place.

The state fire code says "the fueling facility operations supervisor and the person in control of the vessel receiving the flammable or combustible liquid" must be in communication before fueling takes place.

"We need to look at the codes and licenses and we need to sit down with Scudder-Taylor," Hyannis Deputy Fire Chief Dean Melanson said.

A man identified as a representative of Scudder-Taylor Oil refused to comment yesterday.

The ferry did have an overflow alarm that went off properly, Melanson said.

While it may have been one of the largest spills in terms of volume, it was easier to clean up than many, Brunelle said. Thanks to an onshore wind and incoming tide, the spill was concentrated in one area.

The wind corralled most of the oil close to the Hyannis Marina and the town landing next to the Steamship Authority dock, Sweeney said.

"We got lucky with the wind direction," Brunelle said.

But still, in the one area, the stench of diesel overpowered the salt air. The dye that colored the fuel turned the water a Pepto Bismol shade of pink.

A loon cut through the calm water near the pink swath, apparently unaffected.

By late yesterday afternoon, no one had reported any oiled birds, said Richard F. Packard, chief of emergency response for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

This type of diesel fuel is lighter than the No. 6 fuel oil that spilled from a fuel barge into Buzzards Bay last year.

That spill, one of the worst in state waters in decades, killed 461 birds and closed about 100,000 acres of shellfish beds.

Thousands of gallons of No. 6 oil - estimates varied from 14,700 to 98,000 gallons - leaked from the damaged hull of a Bouchard Transportation barge approaching Cape Cod Canal.

The company paid a $10 million fine and the accident led to stricter state laws governing marine transportation.

When oil spills in marine areas, the major concern with wildlife is the oiling of bird feathers, which causes birds to lose their ability to repel water, Packard said. Lacking that protection, they can freeze to death.

Emergency responders, who worked to revive Garland were also soaked in oil by the time they reached Cape Cod Hospital, Melanson said.

Cleanup efforts
The Coast Guard began unfurling containment booms within an hour of the spill's discovery, Coast Guard Lt. Jonathan Hellberg said.

About 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled into Hyannis Harbor yesterday when Kurt Garland, who works for Scudder Taylor Oil, collapsed when he suffered a heart attack while refueling a Hy-Line ferry. Garland was found around 5 a.m. and later pronounced dead.
(Staff photo by STEVE HEASLIP)

About 1,500 feet of containment booms were used on the spill, Melanson said.

Fleet Environmental of Randolph and Clean Harbors Environmental Services of Braintree parked along the shore from Hyannis Marina to the town landing. With large vacuum hoses stuck in the water, they sucked up the bright pink fluid.

By 4 p.m. yesterday 80 percent of the oil had been removed, Sweeney said. The cleanup companies planned to work all night, Sweeney said.

The oil floats on the surface of the water but it does mix in to some degree "and it is toxic," Packard said.

"The loss of a life"
Last night, the larger vessels in Hyannis Harbor were ordered to stay tied up until further notice. Their wakes would cause too much disturbance, Sweeney said. But police began to allow fishermen to leave the harbor at 5 p.m. yesterday.

Danny Dwyer, captain of the Clamneck, said he missed a calm day of fishing. Right around Christmas he could have used the money.

"But me missing a day's pay in the realm of things ...," he said. "The real tragedy is the loss of a life."

Originally from Norwalk, Conn., Kurt Garland moved to the Cape as a child, according to his family. With his wife, Karen, he had two daughters, Courtney Parker, 26, a senior airman with the Air Force in Charleston, S.C., and Katie Garland, 21, of West Yarmouth.

Garland had delivered oil for Scudder-Taylor for 18 to 20 years, said Paula Baldner, his sister-in-law. He always worked early mornings, she said. "That was definitely a regular routine."

He was happy at the company, Baldner said. Courtney Garland said her father once delivered newspapers for the Cape Cod Times.

The Garlands recently celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary, Baldner said. In May, they renewed their vows in Hawaii, a place the couple visited many times.

Staff writer ERIC GERSHON contributed to this report.

(Published: December 12, 2004)

Fishery opened to select boats

For cutting back on cod catch, some Cape fishermen are allowed to fish for haddock in an area closed to most since 1994.

HARWICH - (12/1/04) It's a fisherman's dream: fishing on abundant schools of fish, with no limit on the amount you can catch each day. It sounds like a throwback to the 1960s when Georges Bank still teemed with fish and fishermen led a relatively unfettered life, free from the current stifling regulations that protect overfished species. But sometimes those regulations have their rewards. That's true for some Chatham and Harwich fishermen, who, starting Sunday, received the exclusive right to fish for haddock in an area about 35 miles off Cape Cod that has been closed to most fishing since 1994. Access to "Closed Area I" is their reward for figuring out how to cut back on catching endangered species such as cod.

Last year, local fishermen were able to convince the New England Fishery Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service to let them manage an annual percentage of the cod quota themselves. Spearheaded by the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen's Association, 58 boats formed an organization called the Georges Bank Hook Sector. Boats signed on to an agreement that includes a "hard" quota on cod. This requires that they stop fishing once they've caught the predetermined amount. Last winter, fishermen from the Hook Sector participated in an experiment to see how much haddock was in the closed area and if they could develop a bait that caught mostly haddock but very little or no cod. The boats found that herring and a manufactured bait both worked.

2.2 million pounds
Their reward is access until Dec. 31 to the closed area and its potential catch of 2.2 million pounds of haddock. Last year, Massachusetts fishermen received, on average, $1.17 per pound for haddock. That would make the 2.2 million pounds worth $2.6 million. Ports such as Chatham and Harwich, which depend heavily on cod, are more than willing to make room for haddock, said John Pappalardo, a fishery analyst for the Cape Cod Hook Association. About 25 Cape boats have expressed interest in the haddock fishery, he said. Whether they catch the entire quota depends on weather and luck. Three years ago these fishermen relied on cod, dogfish and bluefin tuna. But federal regulators have shut down the dogfish fishery for at least a decade and for some undetermined reason, tuna have not been showing up in local waters. Because cod stocks are struggling, fishermen have been restricted to just 1,000 pounds a day, half what they could catch just a year ago. "A three-month fishery (promising) a decent catch of a robust fish stock is a great thing," said Pappalardo. "This is the first good news we've had in a long time."

Fishermen in Maine are not so happy.
U.S. Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, chairwoman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Fisheries and Coast Guard, last week sent a letter to federal fisheries service director William Hogarth to protest that the area will be open only to Cape boats. "It's terrible news for Maine's fishermen who need access to more healthy fish stocks, not less," Snowe said in a press release last week. Pappalardo said the Hook Sector members never sought exclusive rights to the area. At least 10 other fishing vessels were part of a proposal submitted to the fisheries service by the New England management council. The extra boats were rejected because federal regulators thought too many boats would be a threat to the cod supply.

Restaurants hungry
In the meantime, the hook association has been developing a market for haddock with local restaurants. Joyce Groemmer, spokesperson for the seven Hearth 'N Kettle restaurants, said that haddock replaced cod on the local chain's menu starting last summer. The company also owns The Grand Cru wine bar in Hyannis and the Dan'l Webster Inn in Sandwich, where haddock is also served. "Local cod was not available and haddock was plentiful and equally as good," she said. "We could get it fresh, keep the price reasonable and not have to go off-Cape."

(Published: December 1, 2004)

Local fishermen rally for ailing friend

CHATHAM - (12/1/04) A Chatham fisherman who was nearly killed in a plane crash in Kentucky last month has returned home with the help of local fishermen. Or at least he's one step closer to home. Chris Davis, 53, was flown by Medflight helicopter to Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston on Monday, just two weeks after the ultralight plane crash that killed the pilot. Davis was listed in fair condition yesterday. "He had a guardian angel on his shoulder," said his wife, Rebecca, who was the first to arrive at the crash scene on the afternoon of Nov. 15. "And he's alive because of it." Davis, a commercial fisherman and flying enthusiast, was in Kentucky to look at a dual-seat plane. He was taking a training flight when the crash occurred. Rebecca Davis was in the hangar, near London, Ky., when she heard the single-engine two-seater pass overhead, just moments before it crashed. Moments later, after hearing a loud thud, she rushed to the scene and resuscitated the pilot, Norman Labhart Jr., 48, of Kentucky, although he died later. Her husband was treated for numerous injuries, including broken ribs, two collapsed lungs, three crushed vertebrae and a separated pelvis.

Davis, whose commercial fishing boat is called Coming Home, is still battling pneumonia and has not moved his legs yet, his wife said. "But we're on the East Cost now," she said yesterday from the Boston hospital. "And that's the first step." He'd likely still be in a Kentucky hospital if it weren't for a tight-knit Chatham fishing community, which has come up with more than $20,000 already for his medical bills. The flight from Kentucky to Boston, for instance, will not be covered by insurance. At the Cape Fisherman's Supply on Depot Road, they're collecting donations for Davis's medical bills. And the Nereid Network, a nonprofit organization that supports the Cape's fishing industry, has set up an address for donations. "It's a reflection of the type of person he is," said Ernie Eldredge, a lifelong friend of Davis who drove to Kentucky to be by his side. Davis - who has two children, five foster children and three grandchildren - will be transferred to the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Cape and Islands in Sandwich when he is ready to be moved, his wife said. Rebecca Davis said both her husband and Labhart, the pilot, were expert fliers. It is unknown, she said, why the plane faltered. "But they knew the risks," she said. "There was nothing stopping them, they both love to poke holes in the sky."

Donations can be sent to the Nereid Network Chris Davis Coming Home Fund at P.O. Box 704 North Chatham, MA 02650 or dropped off at Cape Fisherman's Supply, 167 Depot St., Chatham.
(Published: December 1, 2004)

P'town chief/harbormaster Meyer nets three day suspension

Gap in response to domestic at Fishermen's Wharf is a tragic lesson for all enforcement personnel

PROVINCETOWN - (12/1/04) Police Chief and Acting Harbormaster Ted Meyer was suspended for three days without pay for what an independent investigator called "a significant error in judgment" in his handling of an incident that ended with the suicide of a Portland, Maine, woman on Fisherman's Wharf. Bridget Rines, 24, shot herself in the early-morning hours of Oct. 17 after a dispute with her girlfriend, during which Meyer had been asked to intervene. Last night, Town Manager Keith Bergman released a letter that he sent to Meyer, detailing the suspension. Bergman also released a copy of the independent investigator's report, prepared by former Wakefield Police Chief Stephen Doherty. "While this independent review determined that there was no violation of law, regulation, procedure, or policy during the events of October 17, 2004, in order to maintain the Provincetown Police Department's high image of excellence, you and I have agreed that you shall forfeit three days' compensation as an unpaid suspension completed on November 24, 25 and 26, 2004," wrote Bergman. Bergman also offered Meyer his "full support" in continuing as the town's police chief. "My expectation is that you and I will continue to work as an effective management team," Bergman wrote.

Property dispute
According to Doherty's investigation, Meyer, in full uniform at Commercial and Carver streets, was approached by a woman and asked to resolve a property dispute between two other women, Rines and her girlfriend, Jamie Nadeau, also of Portland, early on Oct. 17. Meyer questioned Rines and Nadeau and obtained an agreement from Rines to return the property of Nadeau, from Rines's Toyota SUV, located at the wharf. In his report of the incident, Meyer stated his opinion that both women "appeared to be calm and in control of themselves." But according to Doherty's investigation, shortly after the agreement was secured, the woman who had initially asked for assistance returned to Meyer's position, informing him that Rines was a police officer and had a firearm in her vehicle, and asking Meyer to accompany them, "so nothing will go wrong." Doherty's report continues: "Chief Meyer, while not reported to be engaged in other police business, and after having received a request for police assistance that potentially involved a firearm, made the decision not to respond to the pier himself, nor to radio other police personnel of the reported existence of a firearm within the atmosphere of a previous disagreement." Approximately 30 minutes after the women spoke with Meyer, Provincetown police received a call reporting a disorderly female and male at Fisherman's Wharf. Responding officers found a van blocking a Toyota SUV.

Weapon fired
Those officers were informed that Nadeau was having trouble retrieving her belongings from Rines's Toyota. As officers approached the SUV, they saw Rines raise a firearm to her head and discharge the weapon. Rines, a correctional officer at the Windham (Maine) Correctional Center and reserve police officer for the town of Old Orchard Beach, Maine, died of a single gunshot wound to the head. Doherty's investigation concludes, in part: "This decision by Chief Meyer was a significant error in judgment. Threat assessment and risk management have a greater chance of success with early recognition and communication." But, Doherty also concludes that, "It is my judgment that Chief Meyer, in the early morning hours of Oct. 17, 2004, with the information available to him at that time, did not ... violate domestic violence policies or statutes." According to Doherty's investigation, Provincetown police Sgt. Carrie Benjamin alleged that Meyer had violated both state law and Provincetown Police Department policy on domestic violence responses, one of the catalysts for the independent investigation. "I find that claim to be unsupported by the information under review," reported Doherty. Meyer did not immediately return a phone call from the Times last night. In an earlier interview he called the suicide "a very tragic situation," expressed sympathy for Rines's family and also said, "I'm very upset that it went down, and I regret that my officers were involved." Rines's girlfriend Jamie Nadeau did not return a call, though she is quoted in Doherty's investigation as saying "nothing can change what happened" and "the newspapers are wrong. I have nothing to say," in a late October interview with Doherty. (Published: December 1, 2004)

Islands again awash in scallops

Sweet bay scallops, while plentiful on Nantucket and the Vineyard, are hard to find on the mainland

By Doug Fraser, CCT

ORLEANS - (11/13/2004) This year like others in recent memory, you should head to the islands if you want the tastiest shellfish at a somewhat reasonable price. Tiny drums of sweetness, bay scallops are scarese on the mainland but relatively plentiful on Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. "Scallops are jumpin' in the boat." said Nantucket harbormaster Dave Fronzuto. Dave Fronzuto Nantucket Harbormaster

On that island,between 50 and 60 small boats a day have been dragging for small inshore bay scallops and catching their limit in three hours or less. "we've had five consecutive years catching averaging 15,000 bushels." said Fronzuto, who added he believesthe trend will continue this year.

While not harvesting as much as last year, Martha's Vineyard is still looking at some pretty good numbers, and with a lot od seed scallops around, it looks like next year could be another good one. "We got'em ", said Edgartown shellfish constable and shellfish biologist Paul Bergenall. He said around 20 boats are out in Edgartown Harbor and he expects 6,000 bushels year. While tat's still off the boom years where 20,000 scallops were taken it's not bad. "Like a lot of things down her, it's not as good as it used to be , but it's still better than the mainland", said Bagnell.

Speaking of the mainland. "nope," was Chatham, shellfish constable Stuart Moore's laconic answer to the obvious question.

Dawson Farber Orleans HarbormasterOrleans harbormaster Dawson Farber answered the question of whether there were any bay scallops in Town Cove or Pleasant Bay before it was even asked. "None," he said. "Nothing I've seen or heard about."

The years from 1975 to 1985 were the boom years in Massachusetts scalloping with between 121,00 and 195,00 bushels harvested every year by commercail fishermen. The shellfish were worth nearly $8 million to fishermen at the peak in 1980. In recent years the annual harvest dipped to 23,000 to 38,000 bushels, worth between $2 million and $4 million.

A combination of factors could be blamed for the decline, including poor waterquality and loss of habitat.

This year the scallop season started between Oct 1 and Nov 1, depending o thetown. Shellfish constables in most towns said they did not have hundreds of boats queued up at dawn on opening day of the bay scallop season. It was generally a few boats out prospecting, as in Harwich, trying to see if it was worth the effort. In most cases it wasn't.

Farber said he heard about one man who tried Cape Cod Bay and got a bushel for his effort. Bourne Natural Resources Officer and assistant harbormaster Mike Gratis said three commercial fishermen and a couple of dozen recreational fishermen were out. "I don't see anybody raking in bushels." he said, although he didn't want to discount a possible turnaround in the season.

Sometimes winter winds will blow up enough wave action to push scallops in closer to shore. And scallops, unlike oysters and clams, are mobile. They can propel themselves by clapping the two halves of their shells together , so that empty shellfishing could become more productive over the winter.

Harwich's new last frontier on Pleasant Bay

By Dan Hamilton, The Cape Cod Voice
EAST HARWICH - (11/5/04) "I lovingly like to refer to it as 'Kendrick Farm-parentheses-formerly-Summer Woods,'" says Dick Thomas, one of the leaders of a neighborhood group trying to save an historic property in Harwich from development as a 32-home cluster subdivision with eight affordable units. Perhaps there's another way to refer to the same parcel: Is the old Kendrick Farm the last frontier in Harwich? Conservation and environmental groups didn't think so last year when they shepherded a very ambitious campaign to buy the nearby 42-acre Shea property. Shea was the place to draw the line on inappropriate development, they argued, and they garnered wide support to protect the fragile watershed of Pleasant Bay.

The effort drew volunteers and dollars from within town and in an unusual twist, from neighboring Chatham, in recognition of the regional resource at stake. "It's what I think of as a sister property to Shea," says Thomas of the land south of Kendrick Road, north of Bay Road and west of Route 28. He's a retiree who seems mildly apologetic about moving here from Cleveland a mere three years ago, before expounding on Chapter 40B, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, vernal pools, and the town and regional regulatory process with the depth of a veteran.

Many of the same reasons which underscored the urgency and rationale for saving Shea apply to the nearly 40-acre Kendrick tract, he says. In the fine old Cape tradition of naming a project after what it displaces, the developer has come up with a name for this one; not the last frontier, but "Summer Woods."

Edward Kendrick was a true frontiersman: He bought the land which is so valuable today from the Monomoyicks and built a homestead there around 1740. An old farmhouse survives, but it may be newer -- vintage 1800s. . . . (For the whole story, see The Cape Cod Voice