(Information on this site is considered to be accurate at the time of posting, but is subject to change as new information becomes available.)
Monday, 9/24/12 12:00 PM
Lummi Rock finished removing the last of two sections of a
sunken barge from Smuggler’s Cove on Friday, Sept. 21, 2012, at
low tide, about 5:10 a.m. This was the bow section - about
40 feet wide by 60 feet long.
The company was able to remove the central section of the barge
on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. This section of barge was about 50
feet wide by 60 feet long. It presented the company with a
number of unexpected challenges, delaying the removal effort by
No oil spills have been reported since Monday, Sept.3, 2012.
Ecology will continue its investigation of occasional spills
throughout the removal operations and determine what enforcement
action may be necessary.
Tuesday, 9/11/12 4:45 PM
Lummi Rock has made some progress removing one of the two remaining barge
sections, but the project is taking longer than the company anticipated last
Workers have pulled about half of the 60-foot middle section onto the beach and
started cutting pieces off. They will pull it further and cut off more until the
entire section is out of the water. Then they will begin work to remove the last
remaining 60-foot section the same way – cutting off pieces as they pull the
hull onto the beach, according to a company project manager who is on site.
There have been no reports of spills since Monday, Sept. 3, 2012.
Wednesday, 9/5/12 4:45 PM
Lummi Rock was able to move a 60-foot central section of a barge seven to
eight feet closer to the shore this morning, exposing some of the hull,
including a tank that may contain diesel fuel. The 25-gallon tank may have been the
source of the oil that started leaking Monday.
The tank has been plugged, and its contents will be assessed and pumped off if
any oil remains before the company continues working to remove the barge.
Lummi Rock and spills response contractor Western Refinery Services say oily
sheen on the water had subsided since Tuesday afternoon.
The company estimates it will take two or three more days to finish removing the
central section of barge. According to Lummi Rock, workers will need to pull it
about 10 more feet before they can start cutting it into smaller sections on the
The company estimates it will take another two days to remove the remaining
60-foot bow section, starting Friday or Saturday.
Tuesday, 9/4/12 5:00 PM
Ecology responded to the project site Monday, Sept. 3, 2012, after receiving
several complaints from Lummi Island residents about the smell of diesel fuel
and oily sheen on private beaches, and a report later that day from the company
that about five gallons of diesel had leaked.
Divers were working on rigging the barge for a removal attempt today. However,
it is unclear what triggered the latest spill.
Responders’ on-scene observations were that likely more than five gallons had
leaked. Rainbow sheen was on the water and was making contact with the
shoreline, and a strong odor of diesel was in the air. An estimate of the spill
will be calculated based on the amount of diesel fuel recovered from oil
absorbent pads as part of an ongoing investigation of periodic oil spills
throughout the removal operation.
Ecology required the company to call in a response contractor to help the
company clean up what had spilled, and to help manage any continued spilling.
The response contractor, Western Refinery Services (WRS), arrived about 8:30
p.m. Monday. A larger hard boom was placed around a smaller boom that was unable
to contain the small but steady stream of diesel that was bubbling out of the
hull. An observer was stationed next to the boom throughout the night to monitor
its effectiveness and change out oil-soaked pads.
WRS agreed to return to the work site at first light today to reassess the
situation and adjust the response plan as needed.
The quarry company planned its next attempt to remove the remaining barge
sections this afternoon.
Ecology met with the residents to document their complaints. Their observations
will be part of the overall investigation.
U.S. Coast Guard is on scene today and has been keeping Ecology informed.
According to Coast Guard responders, cleanup appeared to be going well, and the
company and its response contractor appear to be managing the situation.
Ecology arranged for a helicopter to fly over the scene this afternoon. From the
air, Ecology’s responder could see that diesel fuel remains in the water, some
escaping the boomed area, and there are still pockets on the shoreline, although
it is less widespread than on Monday.
It also appeared from the air that the company had made some progress toward
removing the barge. At last report, workers had paused removal efforts during
Friday, 8/31/12 5:00 pm
Workers were able to pull the barge 30 feet towards shore
yesterday and 10 feet today. They will continue to work today and will
work tomorrow but take Sunday and Monday off. There have been no new
reports of oil releases
Wednesday, 8/29/12 5:00 pm
Divers continued efforts today and yesterday to assess
the barge and set up cable rigging to begin pulling a section out of the water
and onto the beach.
Yesterday afternoon, crews reported seeing an oily material bubble to the
surface over the submerged barge. This formed a light sheen of oil inside
the oil spill containment boom set up around the area. While divers have
found no signs that oil is stored on board, some oil or oily material appears to
be trapped on the ceiling below the barge deck. Divers’ bubbles or
movement on the barge may be enough to release small amounts of this material.
Divers have placed special oil-cleanup pads in ceiling recesses to capture oily
material before it can float free.
Small patches of light sheen have been visible today in the boomed area.
The sheen is too thin for cleanup and will be allowed to dissipate on its own.
Lummi Rock has agreed to set up more oil clean-up materials in the beach area
as a precaution in case more oily material floats free from under the deck.
Friday, 8/24/12 4:25 pm
Lummi Rock’s efforts to remove the remaining sections of a sunken barge were
delayed when a cable broke through the hull.
The company planned to reset equipment and try again later today.
The plan now is to use a cable attached to a bulldozer on the deck of one barge
to hoist the side of one of the sections. The company wants to try lifting the
side of the barge to break suction with the bottom silt, and use heavy equipment
on the shore to pull it onto the beach.
Lummi Rock says divers found no oil in the barge, and no oily sheen has been
observed since operations resumed Thursday. The company says MSRC and Foss are
on call to respond in the event of a spill that overwhelms on-scene spill
response capabilities, according to Ecology’s contingencies in a Washington Fish
and Wildlife Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA).
Ecology has been in contact with the company and has been making visits to the
site during preparations and the removal attempt Thursday, but the agency is not
staffing the operation with an around-the-clock responder. The company is
required to report any spills, and Ecology will determine the need to respond.
The company has placed a boom around the work area and absorbent boom along some
of the shoreline as a precaution, according to the HPA.
Thursday, 8/23/12 4:55 pm
Lummi Rock plans to pull on one of the
two remaining sections of a sunken barge this evening.
The company has been gearing up this week to resume removal efforts, moving
equipment into place and rigging cables.
Divers assessed the submerged barge, according to Ecology’s oil spill
contingencies in a Washington Fish and Wildlife Department (WDFW) Hydraulic
Project Approval (HPA). The company says divers found no oil in any of the
Some boom is in place around the barge area, and a private response contractor
is on call in the event of a spill that can respond if a spill occurs that
overwhelms onsite recovery capabilities.
See the update from Friday, Aug. 17, below for further details on the HPA.
Cables are rigged around the sunken barge from two barges on the surface. The
company is using a bulldozer to help maintain tension and release the cables if
necessary. Workers plan to use the incoming tide to help lift the barge sections
off the bottom before moving them toward shore.
Ecology spill responders have been in contact with the company and have been
observing some of the preparations. They have not seen any oily sheen on the
Friday, 8/17/12 4:26 pm
Lummi Rock has notified Ecology that the company is gearing up
to resume efforts Monday, Aug. 20, to remove a barge that is submerged off Lummi
Work was suspended at the end of March to prevent potential oil spills that
could harm migrating juvenile salmon.
The removal operations have resulted in small, periodic oil spills, leaving
an occasional sheen on the water. From what divers have been able to access, the
barge appears to be empty, except for some residual heavy oil under sediment
resting in the bottom of the hull. That may be the source of the sheen. The oil
possibly was released whenever the sediment was disturbed.
Before resuming work in the water, Lummi Rock had to get an amended Hydraulic
Project Approval (HPA) from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
WDFW included preventive measures from Ecology in the HPA:
- Before barge removal efforts start up again, divers have to assess the
barge sections for areas that may contain or store oil, unless it is deemed
unsafe. Once barge sections are above the waterline, the contractor must
assess compartments and tanks. If any oil is found, it must be removed
before the contractor continues removing that specific section of barge.
- Lummi Rock must have a private response contractor on standby that can
respond immediately to the site with appropriate equipment and resources if
a spill occurs that overwhelms onsite oil recovery capabilities. If there is
a spill of any size, work to remove the barges must stop until it has been
- The company must have in place appropriate oil containment boom capable
of containing any oil spilled prior to and during all barge removal
operations. Shorelines within the boomed area also must be protected with
absorbent sweep or boom.
- The company must immediately notify Ecology and the National Response
Center if any spills produce an oily sheen on the water surface.
- The company must notify Ecology at least 24 hours prior to any barge
Lummi Rock is voluntarily removing the barges, so Ecology is not coordinating
or directing the work. However, Ecology will stay in close contact with the
company and will visit the site during the removal operation to provide
technical assistance and make sure environmental protections are in place and
Thursday, 3/29/12 3:12 PM
A sunken barge off Lummi Island will have to stay put
until at least June 15 to prevent potential oil spills that could harm migrating
The removal effort has resulted in small, periodic oil spills, leaving an
occasional thin coating of oil, or sheen, on the water. While the barge’s hold
appears to be empty, the source is likely some residual heavy oil under sediment
resting in the bottom of the hull that is released whenever the sediment is
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) determined that any
additional spills now would be harmful to juvenile salmon.
The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is investigating potential water
Workers cut the barge into sections and attempted to pull them out of the water,
but a sediment berm piled up as the barge sections were dragged along the
bottom. Workers were unable to pull the barge over the berm with the equipment
they were using.
Lummi Rock LLC (Lummi Rock), which owns the barge and the neighboring gravel
quarry, has been working to remove two sunken barges since March 1 under the
authority of a WDFW hydraulic project approval permit. One barge was
successfully removed March 19.
WDFW granted several extensions to finish removing the second barge, but
potential for damage to migrating salmon is now too great for Lummi Rock to
continue working in the “fish window” – March 15 through June 14. The most
recent version of the permit gives them until March 30 to finish work.
Because the barge sections will remain in the water and may have been weakened
during the removal attempts, the Washington Department of Ecology is requiring
Lummi Rock to assess the contents of the barge, to use preventive measures such
as maintaining oil spill containment boom and cleanup materials around the
barge, and to provide a spill response plan.
A concerned neighbor made the initial report on March 8 of an oil spill in the
area. On March 15, Ecology inspectors observed an oily sheen on the water that
was coming from the submerged barge. Contractors working for Lummi Rock reported
some oil was released during their efforts to remove the barges.
Ecology is requiring the company to compile and submit a report of when spills
occurred and take measures to contain and prevent any future spills.
Lummi Rock operates its quarry under the Ecology
sand and gravel general permit
(PDF 494 KB).
Ecology’s investigation is ongoing.
Monday, 3/20/12 5:00PM
No oily sheen has been reported since last week as salvage
workers continue efforts to remove two submerged barges from the south end of
Washington Department of Ecology inspectors visited the site Thursday, March 15,
to investigate the source of reports of intermittent oily sheen on the water.
They discovered an oily sheen that appeared to be coming from the area of a
fully submerged barge.
Ecology instructed the barge owner, Lummi Rock LLC, to place containment and
absorbent boom around the barges, have pumps and absorbent materials staged in
case of a release, and have a cleanup contractor on standby. The company has
By 3 a.m. Monday, March 19, contractors hired by Lummi Rock successfully removed
one barge that was partially submerged. It contained rock and gravel.
They successfully removed a 30-foot section of the second fully submerged barge
about two weeks ago, leaving two 45-foot sections to remove today and Wednesday.
A portion of the second barge that divers were able to access was empty except
for some residual heavy oil under sediment resting in the bottom of the hull.
Hard foam used to patch holes at some point in the ship’s history was saturated
Because it was unsafe for divers to access the remaining two 45-foot sections,
they can’t confirm their contents. The crew will haul them out of the water
before cutting them into smaller sections.
The barges are converted ships that Lummi Rock used in its quarry operations. It
is unclear what the ships were used for before they were converted to barges,
and they aren’t labeled with identifying marks or numbers from their former
Friday, 3/16/12 4:00 pm
Workers continued to dismantle the first of two
sunken barges – the second of which has been releasing oil – at the south end of
Lummi Island today. Completion of the first barge will enable crews to begin
removing the second vessel right away.
The Washington Department of Ecology and the
U.S. Coast Guard are overseeing the spill response. The agencies have received
reports of sheen – a thin coating on the water – in the area over the past two
weeks. Ecology observed the spill from the second barge yesterday afternoon.
Contractors hired by Lummi Rock LLC (Lummi
Rock) at the company’s quarry are dismantling the old barges. The workers have
surrounded the area with oil spill containment boom and cleanup materials. The
rocky beach, which had oil sheen, is undergoing treatment with oil-spill cleanup
Divers surveyed the second barge yesterday and
discovered that sediments in the hull contained oily material. Hard foam
materials in the hull also are saturated with oil. Both barges are converted
ship hulls, and the materials in the second vessel appear to have been left in
place when conversion occurred. No information on the vessels’ age or dates of
conversion were immediately available.
Removal of both barges will eliminate the
source of oil release. The first barge blocks access to the second. Contractors
will keep the spill control boom in place and will be prepared to respond if the
barge removal work causes further releases of oil.
The water and beach in the area appeared free
of oil sheen today. The oil affected approximately 200 feet of shoreline. The
amounts of oil released and remaining in the barge remain unknown.
Thursday, 3/15/12 4:55 pm
The Washington Department of Ecology is responding to an oil spill from a sunken barge at the south end of Lummi
Ecology discovered the spill early this
afternoon at the Lummi Rock LLC (Lummi Rock) quarry. The barge has released an
unknown amount of oil, leaving sheen, a thin coating, on the water and nearby
shore. Ecology has directed Lummi Rock to place additional oil spill cleanup and
containment materials around the fully submerged barge and on the beach. State
and federal authorities are working to determine the type of oil, how much is on
the barge, and how to safely remove or contain it.
The oil affects approximately 200 feet of
shoreline. The sheen covers about 600 square feet of water.
Lummi Rock was dismantling another barge under
an in-water construction permit, issued by the Washington Department of
Wildlife. Ecology had been unable to confirm an earlier report, made March 8,
2012, of sheen from the dismantling operation.
All oil spills cause environmental damage,
regardless of size. Oil is toxic to the environment and the damage starts as
soon as the oil hits water. A single quart of oil has the potential to foul more
than 100,000 gallons of water.
One of the last two sections of a sunken barge shortly after it was pulled onto
the beach. (9.15.12)
Demolition work in preparation for removing the barges from the property.
A tank that was found onboard one of the barges. (9.21.12)
One end of a section of barge is visible just below the water’s surface in this
photo. Several small rings of boom and absorbent pads are in the area where
diesel fuel was leaking from the hull. (9.4.12)
Light sheen inside boomed area.
Bulldozer cable and crane being used to set rigging.
Diver works to set rigging.
Light sheen inside boomed area.
Lummi Rock plans to hoist one side of the barge using a cable
attached to the bulldozer, then use two cables to pull the barge ashore. The
submerged barge is inside the boom. (8.23.12)
Google Earth overview.
Lummi Rock placed boom around the barge removal
operation following an Ecology inspection. Photo courtesy of RE-Sources (March
Photo from a concerned citizen who called in the
National Response Center report.
Photos of the first barge
The second barge that is
sheening is submerged at the location to the right with the two red buoys.
Date of Incident:
March 15, 2012
Lummi Rock quarry
Lummi Island, Washington
Location Map 1
Location Map 2
Product/Quantity: unknown amount of oil
Responsible Party: Lummi Rock LLC
Press Release - March 29,
Press Release - March 20,
Press Release - March 16, 2012
Press Release - March 15, 2012