Oil Spill Cleanup Continues in Puget Sound

SEATTLE – Response teams continue to clean up an oil spill near Pier 90 at Smith Cove in Elliott Bay today.

The Chinese bulk grain cargo ship, Songa Hua, spilled approximately 42 gallons of oil into the bay early this morning while at anchor and refueling from a barge operated by the Olympic Tug and Barge Company.

The Coast Guard and Washington State Department of Ecology are overseeing the response effort.

The Washington State Maritime Cooperative (WSMC,) a non-profit cargo vessel owners group representing the Songa Hua, was initially hired as the spill management agency for the vessel and deployed cleanup contractors. WSMC was replaced by The O’Brien’s Group at 3 p.m. to continue the clean up.

Three oil skimming vessels, seven other vessels, and shore crews have deployed 7,000 feet of oil containment boom and are recovering oil between the Elliott Bay Marina and Pier 91.

The cause of the oil release that occurred during an oil transfer operation between the Songa Hua and the barge is under investigation by the Coast Guard and the Department of Ecology.

Approximately 168 gallons of Intermediate Fuel Oil, a heavy dark oil, escaped from a tank air vent on the Songa Hua. Most of the oil remained on deck. The fuel barge crew immediately stopped refueling and set out oil spill containment boom. The Department of Ecology’s recently adopted fuel-transfer rule requires such preparation for a spill emergency.

A King County Sheriff’s Office helicopter flew over the spill at first light this morning and the Coast Guard responded with a 41-foot utility boat crew from Station Seattle. A Coast Guard Pollution Investigator was taken on a WSMC helicopter overflight of the area at approximately 7:30 a.m.

The main area of impact of the oil appears to be contained in the vicinity of and underneath Piers 90 and 91 of the Port of Seattle. The cleanup will be coordinated with the Port of Seattle. The assessment and cleanup of the impacted shoreline is to continue into Thursday.

All oil spills are significant, regardless of size or type. Oil is toxic to the environment, and a single quart of oil has the potential to foul more than 100,000 gallons of water.

Updated information on the Songa Hua Elliott Bay oil spill is available on-line at: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/incidents/songahua/songhua_main.html

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