A boat, that was part of an operation to transport large boulders from a barge to shore for a bulkhead sank shortly before 8 am on Friday, Oct. 14, was finally raised at the end of the day on Saturday Oct. 15 after releasing 320 gallons of fuel into Puget Sound. The Washington State Department of Ecology has fined the company responsible $18,000.
$18,000 fine for 2011 oil spill off West Seattle shoreline
The Washington State Department of Ecology has fined the company responsible for spilling 320 gallons of diesel fuel into the Puget Sound off the West Seattle coast in October 2011, according to a press release from DOE.
Waterfront Construction will be fined $18,000 and could pay up to an additional $32,000 for “environmental damage and state costs associated with responding to the spill,” the department wrote.
The West Seattle Herald covered the spill in detail after the 74-foot, 1950’s military landing craft called "Justin" sank on Oct. 14, 2011 two miles south of Alki Point and around 100 feet offshore. The craft was moored off of a work site with plans to deliver boulders.
DOE said Waterfront “failed to notify (them) of the oil spill, (although) the company did hire salvage and environmental cleanup contractors to respond to the incident. They refloated and removed the vessel the next day.”
“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,” Dale Jensen with DOE said in the press release. “Our investigation shows that Waterfront neglected to properly inspect and maintain this vessel. Therefore it sank, spilled fuel and damaged our waters.”
DOE said Waterfront purchased the boat in 2009 after it had sat unused in Tacoma for two years. It was never inspected before or after the sale.
At 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 14, DOE said the Justin operator found one of the ship’s six below-deck compartments flooding. Water quickly spilled into the other compartments and the vessel sank. Inspection of the ship revealed “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.”
Waterfront can appeal the penalties to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board.
The Coast Guard responded to the spill and was able to contain and recover some of the oil by using skimmers, absorbents and pads, Capt. Scott Ferguson told the Herald during the recovery effort.
After Justin sank, Spill Response Section Manager David Byers with DOE told the Herald, “These small spills, even though this isn’t a catastrophic event, … add up to the toxic load of Puget Sound. Puget Sound is a water body that is in trouble right now and these continuous little spills have a pretty big impact to the environment.”