Department of Ecology News Release - August 13, 2015

$16,244 fine for sunken Brinnon vessel

Cost recovery and penalty for diesel spill


After his vessel ran aground, sank and spilled diesel near Brinnon, the owner of the vessel Avalon received a penalty and order of cost recovery totaling $16,244 from the Washington Department of Ecology.

On Sept. 14, 2014, the vessel’s owner, Randall Schleich, was attempting to tow the 65-foot Avalon when the vessel ran aground on a sand spit near Pleasant Harbor Marina on Hood Canal. The vessel was inundated by rising tide, took on water through open portholes and sank.  75 gallons of diesel were spilled to the water after it sank.

The Brinnon Fire Department and local marina staff moved quickly to respond to the initial incident. Ecology and the U.S. Coast Guard provided additional response equipment and resources. Ecology’s spills response team hired a contractor to clean up the spilled fuel.  

Ecology penalized Schleich $5,000 for allowing the diesel to enter the water, as well as failing to notify the Department of Emergency Management of the spill, as required by state law. Additionally, Ecology ordered Schleich to reimburse $11,244.24 for costs the agency incurred in responding to the spill and hiring a cleanup contractor.

“There was a heavy sheen and strong diesel odor throughout the northeast end of Pleasant Harbor, impacting the shoreline, docks and other vessels,” said Jim Sachet, spill response manager for Ecology’s southwest region. “An unfortunate incident like this is a reminder to all boat owners that they play a critical role in protecting our marine waters by preventing and cleaning up spills.”

After the incident, the Department of Natural Resources’ Derelict Vessel Removal Program took custody of the Avalon. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) hired a contractor to raise the vessel and tow it to Port Townsend where it was removed from the water and later dismantled. DNR is seeking an additional $123,446.33 from Schleich in cost recovery relating to the incident.

Ecology’s penalty may be appealed within 30 days to the Pollution Control Hearings Board.

Contact information

Chase Gallagher
Communications manager
Twitter: ecySW