Department of Ecology News Release - October 18, 2012


Everett tug fined for Seattle oil spill

BELLEVUE – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has fined Dunlap Towing Co. (Dunlap) of Everett $16,000 for an oil spill to Elliott Bay in Seattle last year.

The Dunlap tug, Manfred Nystrom, spilled 33 gallons of diesel fuel oil to the bay while taking on fuel at the north end of Harbor Island on July 1, 2011. The company promptly reported the spill and organized a cleanup response that recovered 31 gallons of the oil.

“This spill was avoidable by a twist of a valve,” said Ecology’s spill response supervisor, David Byers. “As much as we appreciate the prompt response to this spill, Dunlap’s vessels, including this tug, have had several similar spills.”

During the past five years, Dunlap tugs have spilled 1 to 20 gallons of fuel five times during fuel transfers, including a 2008 incident involving an incompletely closed valve on the Manfred Nystrom.

Ecology determined that in the most recent incident a valve thought closed during the fueling operation was partially open. As a result, incoming fuel continued to flow into a full tank and overflowed through a vent on that tank onto the deck. Oil then flowed overboard through openings that were inadequately blocked to prevent oil from spilling overboard.

Ecology penalties may be appealed to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board. 

“We greatly regret this spill,” said Robert Clinton, Dunlap Director of Safety and Training. “Dunlap takes environmental protection very seriously. Our 27 towing vessels have safely loaded approximately five million gallons of diesel fuel so far this year alone. We believe in constant improvement and have implemented new procedures to further reduce the likelihood of another incident of this type.”

Besides the $16,000 fine, the state issued a $414 assessment on Oct. 3, 2011, for damages the spill caused to the public’s environmental resources. The assessment is based on the amount spilled and the resources it placed at risk.  Dunlap has paid this assessment.


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