Washington State Department of Ecology - June 20, 2013
BELLINGHAM – The Washington Department of Ecology has fined the owner and operator of a rock quarry on Lummi Island $10,300 for spilling 79 gallons of oil to Smuggler’s Cove last year.
The quarry is owned by Lummi Rock and operated by Aggregates West Inc.
Between March and September 2012, Ecology documented five separate oil spills into the cove from a pair of sunken barges owned by the companies.
Smuggler’s Cove is part of Bellingham Bay and Puget Sound and an important habitat for salmon and other fish, bird and mammal species.
The barges – converted from old ships – had been at the bottom of the cove for several years. The spills occurred while quarry contractors worked to pull the sunken barges from the cove.
Initially, the barges periodically released small amounts of heavy oil trapped in the old hulls. Then the largest spill happened in September, when 75 gallons of diesel fuel spilled.
The companies placed oil containment boom around the sunken barges and conducted cleanups after each spill.
The fuel appeared to have leaked from a 300-gallon tank onboard one of the sunken barges. The tank was not discovered until after the barges had been pulled from the water for scrapping.
In addition to the penalty, Ecology has billed the companies $2,668 to recoup costs the department incurred for responding to the spills in March, August and September. The company also will be required to compensate the public $3,943 for damages to state natural resources. The assessment is based on the amount spilled and resources placed at environmental risk.
Ecology does not benefit from penalty payments. The final penalty amount owed and collected is deposited in special accounts that pay for environmental restoration and enhancement projects.
Penalties may be appealed to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board.
Dustin Terpening, Ecology communications manager, 360-715-5205, email@example.com, or @ecynorth (Twitter)
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