August 2, 2012
Waterfront Construction fined $18,000 for West Seattle oil spill
The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has fined Waterfront Construction Inc. (Waterfront) of Seattle $18,000 for spilling 320 gallons of diesel fuel in Puget Sound off West Seattle in October 2011.
The company also faces more than $32,000 in additional assessments for environmental damage and state costs associated with responding to the spill.
Waterfront’s 74-foot, 1950s-vintage military landing craft, the Justin, sank on the morning of Oct. 14, 2011, while moored off a work site along the shoreline about two miles south of Alki Point. The vessel was delivering boulders for a construction project.
Although Waterfront failed to notify Ecology of the oil spill, the company did hire salvage and environmental cleanup contractors to respond to the incident. They refloated and removed the vessel the next day.
After the Justin was raised, inspectors found two half-inch holes in a corroded section of the hull.
“Much as we value and appreciate the company’s response to the spill, this fine is for the failure to prevent this incident and make required notifications to Ecology,” said Dale Jensen, who manages Ecology’s spill prevention, preparedness and response program. “Our investigation shows that Waterfront neglected to properly inspect and maintain this vessel. Therefore it sank, spilled fuel and damaged our waters.”
The company bought the craft in 2009 from a private party who had moored the vessel, unused, in Tacoma for two years.
The Justin underwent no professional inspection before or after the sale. The Justin had six compartments below its deck designed to keep the vessel floating in case of hull damage during a landing. Clamps to tighten access hatches to the compartments were painted open or damaged, so the covers could not be fully closed. The company also failed to maintain on-board bilge pumps, and relied instead on the use of portable pumps.
The Justin’s operator arrived at 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 14, 2011 to find one compartment flooding, with water spilling into other compartments. The vessel sank quickly, bow first.
“At Waterfront we advocate a high priority for environmental protection and stewardship in our day to day operations,” said owner Paul Wilcox. “Much of what we do is to provide mitigation solutions for waterfront projects. The sinking of the Justin was an unfortunate event and we are taking significant steps to avoid this sort of thing in the future.”
Besides the $18,000 fine, Ecology has billed Waterfront $25,254 to recover the state’s costs for responding to the spill and overseeing its cleanup. In addition, the state issued a $6,935 assessment in January 2012 for damages the spill caused to the public’s environmental resources. The assessment is based on the amount spilled and the resources it placed at risk.
October 16, 2011
Unified Command completes raising vessel off of West Seattle
A team of U.S. Coast Guard and Wash. Dept. of Ecology environmental specialists resumed their shoreline assessment near Lowman Beach and Lincoln parks early Sunday, after the sunken vessel Justin was removed from the water late Saturday.
A helicopter was used at sunrise to assess the evaporation of any remaining diesel ribbon streaks in the water and nothing was seen.
The shore assessment team has found no evidence of oil on the shore. What light diesel ribbons that may remain in the south of Alki Point is unrecoverable and will rapidly dissipate.
Justin was transported by barge to Tacoma for repairs last night. Prior to repairs being done, investigators will examine the vessel in an attempt to determine what caused it to sink.
To report impacted wildlife please call 1-800-22-BIRDS.
October 15, 2011
Spill Recovery and Containment Operations Continue
The U.S. Coast Guard and Ecology resumed salvage operations early this morning to recover the vessel Justin, which sank Friday, south of Alki Point in West Seattle. Clean up crews worked diligently to contain and recover the diesel fuel and oil that was spilled by the vessel.
The Unified Command, consisting of Ecology, Coast Guard, Waterfront Construction and their contractor Northwest Maritime Consultants Inc, are working together to successfully clean any remaining oil and recover the vessel.
A Coast Guard overflight was launched at first light today and while there is still an oil sheen in the water that was released yesterday, it is very broken up and not recoverable. This oil will continue to weather, dissipate and evaporate through natural wave and wind action.
The oil that was captured by boom yesterday was effectively contained overnight. Absorbent pads are being used to clean this oil and there are still oil skimming vessels on-scene to assist as necessary.
A 150 ton crane barge will be used to recover the 75 foot vessel. Divers are currently in the water at the vessel and have begun the recovery operation. Wildlife were reported in the impact area, however, no impact to wildlife has been reported. Please call 1-800-22-BIRDS to report impacted wildlife.
Unified Command to begin raising vessel at Alki Point
The U.S. Coast Guard and Wash. Dept. of Ecology, are working with contractor Ballard Diving and Salvage, to re-float the vessel Justin, on Saturday.
A 150 ton crane barge is being used to recover the 73 foot vessel. Lifting will commence at approximately 5 p.m. The Justin will be lifted completely from the water. It will remain suspended, allowing water to drain, and placed on a barge that will arrive at approximately 6 p.m.
A team of environmental specialists has completed a shoreline assessment and search for oil at Lowman Beach and Lincoln parks. There is no evidence of oil on the shore, on driftwood or on the absorbent boom near the shore. The team will continue their search for any sign of oil on the shoreline and overflights to monitor the evaporation and breakup of light weathered diesel ribbons that remain.
Wildlife has been reported in the impact area, however no impact to wildlife has been reported. Please call 1-800-22-BIRDS to report impacted wildlife.
Unified Command completes raising vessel off of West Seattle
The sunken vessel Justin was successfully removed from the water, at approximately 9:30 p.m., Saturday.
A 150 ton crane barge hoisted the vessel out of the water and placed it on a barge that will transport it to Tacoma for repairs. Prior to repairs being done, Coast Guard and Wash. Dept. of Ecology investigators will examine the vessel in an attempt to determine what caused it to sink.
Shoreline assessments of the beaches near Lowman Beach and Lincoln parks will resume at sunrise. A helicopter will also be used at sunrise to assess the evaporation and breakup of the light weathered diesel ribbons that remain.
October 14, 2011
The state Department of Ecology, U.S. Coast Guard and Seattle Fire Department are responding to a boat sinking off Alki Beach in Seattle.
A work boat that is less than 100 feet long is tied up to a barge. It is unclear if the boat or the barge is sinking. Oil is leaking, creating a sheen on the water.
The boat reportedly began sinking at 7:30 a.m. Ecology received a report of the boat sinking from the Coast Guard at 9 a.m. The incident is under investigation.
The Coast Guard, Wash. Dept. of Ecology and Seattle Fire Dept. are responding to a partially sunk, 73-foot vessel approximately one mile south of Alki Point, Seattle.
Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound received a report of an oil sheen at 8 a.m.
Two 25-foot response boat crews from Coast Guard Station Seattle and the Seattle Fire Boat Leschi are on scene and deploying boom. The Coast Guard Cutter Swordfish is also on scene.
It has been confirmed that no one was on board when the vessel sank. The owner of the vessel has reported there is approximately 300 gallons of diesel and 50 gallons of motor oil on board. There is an approximate 600 by 300-foot sheen on the water.
A sheen of diesel fuel this size will deteriorate as it is exposed to elements and natural wave action, but petroleum spills of any size cause environmental damage to water.
The responsible party has contracted National Response Corp. Environmental Services, which is on scene deploying boom, a skimmer and absorbent pads to contain and absorb the spill. They have also contracted divers to contain potential pollution. As the vessel was sinking, efforts were made by the responsible party to plug the fuel vents to prevent pollution.
Agencies are flying over the scene to survey the spill. Ecology and the Coast Guard are conducting an investigation into the sinking of the vessel.
Ecology and Coast Guard investigators will gather information to determine the volume spilled from the vessel and the circumstances of the sinking.
Ecology, Coast Guard, Seattle Fire Department, and NRC-Environmental Services continue to respond to the 75-foot landing craft that sank in West Seattle about 1.5 miles south of Alki Point and spilled an undetermined amount of oil into Puget Sound.
Diesel fuel is still leaking from the vessel’s fuel tanks at an undetermined rate. There is a 600- foot by 300-foot sheen on the water.
Ecology has conducted aerial observations of the spill site and the Coast Guard is expected to do fly over the site shortly.
There are reports that some oil has reached the beach just south of the incident site.
NRC-ES and Seattle Fire Dept. have deployed oil containment boom to try to contain the sheen. The work barge now over the sunken landing craft will be moved so more boom can be deployed.
NRC-ES has also deployed an oil skimming vessel to clean up fuel from the water.
Ballard Diving Co. had been hired to send divers down to inspect the vessel.
Sheen reaching shore from sunken boat south of Alki Point
Some oil sheen has reached the shore from a boat that sank south of Alki Point in Seattle this morning.
The state Department of Ecology, U.S. Coast Guard, Seattle Fire Department and cleanup contractors are working to contain the spill from the vessels operated by Waterfront Construction.
The sheen is now estimated at 500 yards by 200 yards around the sunken vessel and the barge to which it is tied. Some sheen has reached the shore north of Lowman Beach Park.
The public is advised to avoid contact with the oil. Responders are using oil containment boom and absorbent pads to keep more oil from reaching the shore. Ecology and Coast Guard personnel are on-scene to assess how the oil is affecting the shoreline.
A 500 yard safety zone has been established in the water around the spill site.
An estimated 1,600 feet of hard boom and 300 feet of soft boom have been deployed to contain and absorb oil from the water.
Waterfront Construction hired NRC-Environmental Services (NRC) to help with containment and cleanup. NRC brought an oil skimming vessel to the scene to remove oil. Global Diving & Salvage and Ballard Diving have been hired to dive under the barge to assess if the leak can be stopped under water.
Ecology and the Coast Guard have flown over the scene to assess the incident. The sheen was observed to be breaking up.
The salvage operations for the vessel are expected to continue through the night. Spill recovery operations will continue until nightfall and resume again at first light Saturday.
Oil containment boom and oil skimming equipment are working well to contain and recover the diesel fuel and oil spilled by the sunken vessel Justin, which sank Friday morning off of the west side of West Seattle.
Shoreline clean-up and containment crews are using absorbent pads to mitigate a very small part of the spill that reached the beach near Lowman Beach Park in West Seattle. Shore-side response crews have deployed boom along the shoreline in the waters just of the beach near the incident site in an effort to prevent further shore impact.
Two miles of impacted shoreline have been surveyed. A majority of the shoreline impact is very light which makes clean-up efforts ineffective and may actually cause more harm than good. However, shoreline clean-up crews have identified areas on the beach with pockets of oil and clean up operations are underway in these areas.
An Incident Command Post has been established at Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound that includes representative from the Washington Department of Ecology, U.S. Coast Guard, and representatives from the responsible party.
The Incident Commanders have set the following objectives:
- Secure the source of the spill
- Stabilize the sunken vessel
- Remove as much oil as possible from the water
- Stabilize the barge
- Salvage the sunken vessel
- Monitor shoreline impact and deploy mitigation equipment as necessary.
The spilled product that remains on the surface of the water is expected to dissipate. Salvage operations will continue throughout the evening with divers focusing on plugging fuel vents securing the spill source. A 150 ton crane barge is being mobilized to be used to lift the vessel from the bottom early tomorrow during daylight.
A 500 yard safety zone is still in effect around the spill site. Mariners are reminded to stay clear of the Safety Zone until it is cancelled. The public is reminded to avoid contact with any of the spilled fuel or oil in the water or any fuel or oil that may reach the beach. If anyone discovers diesel fuel or oil on the beach, they should report it to the Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound at 206-217-6001/2.
Ecology and the Coast Guard have formed a Unified Command to jointly manage the incident. There were 25 staff from Ecology and the state Department of Fish & Wildlife dedicated to managing and assist with the incident.
Here is a summary of recent activities:
- Oil sheen drifted south and east of the sunken landing craft Justin and has impacted approximately 2 miles of shoreline.
- Oil skimming systems have been deployed on scene by the private response contractor NRC-Environmental Services to remove oil from the surface of the water.
- Divers from Ballard Diving are on scene. They will focus on vessel inspection to secure the sunken vessel before it is lifted by crane tomorrow morning.
The following marine assets were deployed for the response:
- 2 fast response vessels, each with 1,000 feet of oil containment boom
- 32-foot Bristol Bay response vessel
- 28 foot Kvichak response vessel
- 20-foot work skiff
- 2 Marco Class 1C self-propelled oil skimming vessels
The following shore side assets were deployed for the response:
- Marine response truck & trailer with portable skimmer and absorbents
- Marine response truck & boom trailer with 2,000 feet of containment boom
The U.S. Coast Guard is suspending nighttime operations and will commence salvage operations at first light tomorrow morning.
Oil and containment boom remains in the water and is working well to contain and recover the diesel fuel and oil spilled by the sunken vessel, Justin.
Wildlife were reported in the impact area, however, no impact to wildlife has been reported. Please call 1-800-22-BIRDS to report impacted wildlife.