Department of Ecology News Release - July 9, 2008
OLYMPIA – Cleanup efforts finished overnight from a heavy fuel oil spill that occurred Tuesday afternoon near the Port of Kalama along the Columbia River. The Department of Ecology (Ecology) and U.S. Coast Guard responded to the spill.
Approximately 10 gallons of black fuel oil spilled from the decks of the M/V Portland Bay into the river. Spill responders from Ecology’s Vancouver Field Office believe most of the spilled fuel was recovered from the water.
The bulk carrier vessel Portland Bay was receiving fuel over water from a barge when the first tank overfilled, sending about 500 gallons of fuel oil to the carrier’s deck.
An Ecology fuel-transfer inspector was on board the vessel at the time of the spill. Most of the spill was contained to the deck, but about 10 gallons spilled over the side and into the Columbia River.
State regulations that went into effect in October 2007 require that when conditions are safe, and it is effective to do so, vessels need to deploy oil containment boom equipment before starting oil transfers over water at rates of 500 gallons per minute or more.
The new “pre-booming” requirements cover all types of petroleum and plant-based fuel products such as crude oil, diesel and bio-diesel fuel and heavy fuel oils. The Portland Bay had boom in place when the spill occurred.
“Our first priority is preventing spills from occurring, but pre-booming for oil transfers is our next line of defense,” said Diane Butorac, interim Spill Prevention Section Manager. “This is a textbook example of how these preventative measures protect our environment. Luckily, very little spilled overboard, and it was cleaned up more readily because it was contained by the boom. But in reality, this spill should never have happened in the first place.”
Crews removed the 500 gallons of heavy fuel oil on the deck by scooping it into 55-gallon barrels. With cleanup finished overnight, the Portland Bay is back under way.
A joint Ecology-Coast Guard investigation into the spill indicates that a valve was not properly adjusted, allowing fuel to pour into an already-near capacity tank as well as an empty one. When the first tank finished filling, the overflow came up on the deck.
Media Contacts: Curt Hart, media relations, 360-407-6990; cell, 360-480-7908 email@example.com
Kim Schmanke, media relations, 360-407-6239; cell, 360-791-9830 firstname.lastname@example.org
Focus on Pre-Booming requirements: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/biblio/0608031.html
How to report a spill: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/other/reportaspill.htm
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