Department of Ecology News Release - April 30, 2020

Fishing vessel owner fined for 2018 spill

Ship spilled 148 gallons of diesel into Elliott Bay

Responders use absorbents to clean up diesel in Elliott Bay.


On May 11, 2018, the 367-foot fishing vessel Excellence spilled 148 gallons of diesel into Elliott Bay during a fuel transfer. Ecology has issued the vessel’s owner, Phoenix Processor Limited Partnership, a $22,000 penalty for a spill to water caused by negligence during fueling. In addition to the penalty, Ecology made prevention recommendations including strongly encouraging the company to install high-level alarms on each fuel tank to alert crew the tank is full.

The spill occurred  during a transfer of fuel from one tank to another. The chief engineer took an inaccurate measurement of the fuel in one of the tanks, leading him to believe it had more capacity to accept fuel.  As the tank was overfilled, fuel flowed from the tank vent to a deck drain, which flowed down the side of the vessel into the water. Though aware of the vessel’s oil transfer procedures, the engineer did not follow them and did not complete items on the fuel transfer checklist.

In compliance with state regulation, Phoenix pre-boomed the vessel, which prevented the spill from spreading. Vessel crew immediately responded to the spill and along with response contractors recovered approximately 134 gallons of diesel. Ecology estimates the remaining 14 gallons evaporated. There were no observed impacts to wildlife from the incident.

“This is another spill where we are thankful for our state’s pre-booming requirements that contained the spill. If this failed transfer was not pre-boomed, the impacts to the environment could have been much greater,” said Dale Jensen, Ecology’s spills program manager. “This spill could have been avoided had the proper procedures been followed.”

Phoenix has 30 days to appeal the penalty to the Pollution Control Hearings Board.


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Contact information

Ty Keltner
Twitter: ecologywa