Spill response nears completion in Tacoma

OLYMPIA – The cleanup efforts in Tacoma’s Hylebos Waterway are nearing an end as spill response contractors have removed the majority of recoverable diesel.

Exact amounts are still unknown, but on-scene responders agree that little of the remaining diesel fuel can be vacuumed from the water. Instead, the best approach to finish cleanup is to lay more bales of absorbent “sweep” which will absorb remaining diesel as the tide ebbs and floods.

The sweep will remain in place through Thursday. A firm estimate of recovered diesel fuel should be available Thursday evening after contents of the vacuum truck and all absorbent materials are accessible and weighed.

The 435-gallon spill occurred Monday evening as a fishing vessel tied up to Trident Seafood’s dock pumped fuel between two onboard tanks. As part of the seafood company’s policy, boom was already in place around the Bowfin. This helped limit the movement of diesel and confine the majority of it to the boomed area and beneath the pier.

Some of the diesel became trapped under the pier, and last night, response contractors lowered absorbent materials into construction openings in the pier to mop up the fuel. They also cut more openings in the dock this morning to access as much of the remaining fuel as possible.

Ecology and Coast Guard officials flew above the spill scene this morning to see if any amount of sheen was visible outside the containment area. A small sheen was found. However, the amount was not recoverable or likely to cause significant environmental harm.

A boom around a sensitive habitat in the Hylebos Waterway near Marine View Drive is being removed because the potential for harm from spilled diesel has passed.

Early information indicates operator or mechanical error caused the spill, but a full investigation is still underway.

Quick facts –

  • Responsible Party – Trident Seafoods
  • Responding Agencies – Coast Guard and Washington Department of Ecology
  • Contractors – National Response Corporation Environmental Services; Marine Spills Response Corporation; Washington State Maritime Cooperative; Genwest; The O’Brien’s Group; Global Diving and Salvage

Statistics –

  • 435 gallons of diesel fuel spilled
  • 153 gallons recovered
  • 5800 feet of boom deployed around the spill area and sensitive area
  • 1,500 feet of absorbent sweep used

If you have any problems viewing this article, please report it here.