Olympic Tug & Barge of Seattle has been fined $16,500 by the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) for spilling oil into Port Angeles Harbor last November. The spill occurred when a company-owned fuel barge was overfilled while being loaded with fuel oil. Ecology has determined that the heavy fuel oil spill which occurred on Nov. 7, 2012, was due to an error by the barge operator.
The incident caused more than 1,700 gallons of fuel to spill to the deck of the barge with nearly 50 gallons entering Port Angeles Harbor.
According to Ecology, the oil transfer was being conducted at the Tesoro Port Angeles Terminal located at the foot of the spit Ediz Hook. Olympic Tug & Barge had oil containment boom placed around the barge prior to starting the fuel transfer which helped contain the spill. Ecology requires “pre-booming” of large-volume oil transfers over water as directed by changes to state law in 2007.
Oil is toxic to the environment and the damage starts as soon as the oil enters water. A single quart of oil has the potential to pollute more than 100,000 gallons of water.
Sven Christensen, general manager of Olympic Tug & Barge, said, “The company cooperated with the authorities throughout the cleanup and assisted them in the investigation into the cause of the incident, ultimately leading to appropriate corrective actions being put into place to prevent a recurrence.”
Olympic Tug & Barge may appeal the penalty to the Pollution Control Hearings Board within 30 days. Ecology does not benefit from spill penalty payments. The final penalty amount owed and collected is deposited in special state accounts that pay for environmental restoration and enhancement projects.
Published by tugboat injury lawyer Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP