Response to pollution incident off San Juan Island continues

Coast Guard Cutter Terrapin file photo

Coast Guard Cutter Terrapin file photo

SEATTLE — The Unified Command continued its response Friday following the sinking of a commercial fishing vessel resulting in a pollution incident west of San Juan Island, Washington.

At this time, Unified Command members are moving ahead with coordinated efforts to remove the entirety of the vessel from the seafloor and have it placed on to a barge where the contaminants can then be safely removed. This is the best course of action to ensure the removal of as much pollutants and contamination as possible from the environmentally sensitive area.

The contracted response organization has paused dive operations in order to procure specialized equipment due to the current depth of the vessel. These items need to be brought in from an onshore facility and will require a few days to be brought onsite. Once they are received, dive operations will begin again.

Unified Command members met with the San Juan County council to discuss current and future response operations.

Crews continue to monitor the situation of the vessel. The vessel remains on the seafloor in an upright position. Coast Guard Cutter Terrapin is scheduled to remain on scene all weekend.

The final disposition of the boat once recovered remains to be determined.

The cause of the incident remains under investigation.

To ensure a safe work environment, safety zones extend 1,000 yards around all responding dive boats. Crews on scene can be contacted directly on VHF marine-band radio channel 16.

The Unified Command consists of the Coast Guard, Washington State Department of Ecology, San Juan Office of Emergency Management, and the Swinomish Tribe.

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