Crews continue oil cleanup in Port Angeles

By Leah Leach
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Cleanup crews will be removing heavy oil from the side of a barge, the Tesoro Terminal’s fuel dock and the pilings underneath for several days after a small fuel oil spill Wednesday, a state Department of Ecology spokesman said Thursday.

By the end of the day Wednesday, cleanup contractors Global Diving & Salvage and Marine Spill Response Corp. had cleaned up nearly all of the spilled oil — except for a thin sheen that was unrecoverable — from the water using absorbent materials.

“They got between 90 percent and 95 percent of the oil out of the water,” said department spokesman Curt Hart.

Now, crews are focusing on cleaning structures, a job that may take them through the weekend, Hart said.

The work has to be done carefully so it doesn’t put any more oil into the harbor, Hart said.

“We have to work with the tides,” he said.

The spill was reported at 3:20 a.m. after a fuel barge owned by Harley Marine Services was overfilled during fueling operations at Tesoro, according to Ecology.

Some 50 to 100 gallons of heavy fuel oil reached the water of Port Angeles Harbor.

All but a slight sheen was captured inside a containment boom that had been placed around the barge before the fuel transfer began, Hart said.

A second containment boom was placed during the fuel transfer, and a third one was put out after the spill, he added.

Fuel contained

A Coast Guard overflight “found nothing that had escaped containment boom,” and no oiled mammals, birds, fish or other wildlife have been observed, Hart said.

“The law and the practice worked exactly in the way it was intended,” he said, referring to an Ecology requirement that a boom be placed before any large-volume oil transfers over water to provide a first line of defense should a spill occur.

In Port Angeles, Global Diving & Salvage sets out containment booms for all transfers.

And it’s a busy place.

“There are many large fuel transfers at Tesoro,” Hart said.

“Port Angeles is a very busy fueling terminal” for tankers en route to refineries from Alaska, he added.

The cause of the spill is under investigation.

“Everybody is being very cooperative,” Hart said.

“We don’t know how this happened.”

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Managing Editor/News Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3531 or at leah.leach@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 08. 2012 6:07PM
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