Department of Ecology News Release - October 3, 2016

Vessel owners fined $47,500 for 2015 Port Orchard oil spill

PORT ORCHARD – The owners of a 69-foot wooden vessel that sank at its dock and spilled oil into Sinclair Inlet face a $47,500 penalty from the Washington Department of Ecology over the incident.

Ecology issued the fine to Dean Raught and Kyhra Hessel of Des Moines for failing to keep the 58-year-old former fishing boat Tango in suitable repair to remain afloat. It sank at the Port Orchard Railway Marina on Sept. 2, 2015.

Investigators determined that a power cable came loose from an electrical service box on the dock. As a result, six pumps stopped operating that had been keeping the vessel from sinking. A lock to secure plug-ins at the box had not been properly engaged.

"This was a bad ending to a series of problems with the Tango," said Dale Jensen, Ecology's spills program manager. "This boat nearly sank before, and the owners relied on pumps to keep it afloat. We offered to get the fuel pumped off the boat to prevent a pollution incident, but they declined."

An estimated 751 gallons of oil, primarily diesel fuel with lubricating oil, spilled when the Tango sank. Local crews and volunteers used a nearby Ecology spill equipment trailer to place containment boom and other spill response materials around the vessel.

The U.S. Coast Guard used a federal spill response fund to hire a salvage company to remove any remaining oil. The marina had the vessel patched and re-floated, then towed to a boat yard for demolition.

Most of the spilled fuel was contained within the marina, but a sheen – a surface coating too thin to clean up – extended about a mile into Sinclair Inlet. In the marina, response crews recovered about 618 gallons of the spill, and 30 gallons that was still inside the boat.

Previously, the vessel took on water and nearly sank in March 2014. Responders deployed powerful pumps to avert the sinking. Ecology offered to arrange removal of the Tango’s fuel in June 2015 at no cost, after explaining to Raught and Hessel they could face liability under state law for polluting. The owners declined Ecology’s offer.

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

With the fine, Ecology also is billing Raught and Hessel $1,200 for the state’s costs to respond to the spill and oversee the cleanup. Earlier, the state issued a separate $20,070 assessment for damage the spill caused to the public’s environmental resources, based on the amount spilled and the resources it placed at risk.

Contact:

Lisa Copeland, communications, 360-407-6990, @ecologyWA

David Byers, Ecology spill response supervisor, 360-407-6974