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Disabled chemical tanker drifts northeast; crewman who died in fire buried at sea

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PORTLAND, Ore. - The crewman who died in a fire aboard a chemical tanker that's adrift off the Oregon coast has been buried at sea.

Ship spokesman Campbell Houston said Monday the engine-room fire left the 485-foot Pine Galaxy without much refrigeration, and the crewman's family gave permission for the ocean burial.

Houston did not have his name. There were no other injuries, and the remaining 21 crew members from China and South Korea are still on board, hundreds of miles from Oregon. Houston said they have plenty of provisions.

Petty Officer 2nd Class George Degener of the U.S. Coast Guard said the Bahamian-flagged vessel has drifted about 100 miles northeast since Wednesday's fire. A commercial tug from Washington state, with a damage-control specialist on board, was scheduled to arrive late Monday.

The plan is to get the Pine Galaxy moving on its own or, failing that, to tow it to a still-to-be-determined West Coast port for repairs.

Degener said the Coast Guard rescue-and-assistance crew that responded to the stranded vessel did not detect any damage to the cargo tanks.

"The ship is considered safe for the individuals to be on board, and there is minimal risk to the environment at this point," he said.

Japan-based Kasuga Shipping owns the ship built in 2004. It is managed by Unix Line of Singapore.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined. The vessel's firefighting systems extinguished the blaze, but the tanker sustained damage to its generators, leaving it without propulsion roughly 700 miles west of Cape Blanco, Oregon. Degener has said he didn't know the exact circumstances of the crewman's death

Coast Guard experts were unable to restart the engines during the weekend.

The tanker left Southern California on Aug. 9, bound for South Korea with a cargo of propylene tetramer, a petroleum additive.

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Online: The Pine Galaxy (http://is.gd/Z1fiNI )

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Follow Steven DuBois at twitter.com/pdxdub

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