Spills Program

Songa Hua Elliott Bay Oil Spill

(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, 5/12/2008  9:00 am

The owner of a cargo ship that spilled bunker oil in Seattle’s Elliott Bay last year has paid a $27,500 penalty to the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology).

The bulk carrier Songa Hua – operated by OSM Ship Management (OSM) of Singapore – spilled an estimated 93 gallons of intermediate fuel oil on Feb. 28, 2007. The ship was anchored off Smith Cove, about a half-mile south of the Port of Seattle’s Pier 91.

An overflow occurred while the Songa Hua was loading fuel from a barge. The thick oil, which fuels large ship engines, has a consistency like pancake syrup when heated to flow through transfer lines. Ecology investigators later determined that ship’s crew caused the spill by:

  • Failing to follow established procedures to monitor the fueling operation.
  • Making faulty repairs to a fuel tank valve, without proper oversight.
  • Failing to give special attention to the valve, because it was being used for the first time since its repair.

The crew also failed to immediately report the spill, as required by state law.

The spill caused areas of oil sheen within approximately 90 acres of northern Elliott Bay. The sheen coated bulkhead rocks at Elliott Bay Marina and pilings under Pier 91. Cleanup took six days to complete.

OSM bore all cleanup contractor costs. The company last year also reimbursed the state $11,139 for response and investigation costs, and paid a $1,855 Natural Resources Damage Assessment. Ecology deposited the penalty and assessment payments into accounts that fund the department’s chartered Neah Bay emergency response tug.

Ecology and the U.S. Coast Guard jointly responded to the spill, oversaw the cleanup, and investigated the incident.

Thursday, 3/1/2007  12:00 pm

An aerial inspection of the spill site and surrounding area this morning showed no oil remaining on the water from the Songa Hua spill. At time of the spill most of the oil was carried by wind into the Smith Cove area, between the Elliott Bay Marina bulkhead and Pier 91. Skimmers collected oil in this area until no more could be recovered from the surface on Feb. 28.

Cleanup activities are expected to be done today. These include:

  • Cleaning the eastern reach of Elliott Bay Marina bulkhead. Crews are tending pom-pom boom, which catches oil released from the rip-rap (boulders) by rising tides. Crews also may wipe down the rip-rap.
    Pier 91 pilings: Workers are wiping down the pilings at Pier 91 with oil-absorbent pads.

  • Workers are wiping down the area where the oil overflowed and ran down the side of the hull on the Songa Hua.

Boom deployed: 7,000 feet, to contain residual oil pier pilings and breakwater rocks.

Response vessels deployed: Six, including one skimmer on standby and various work boats.

Personnel: 32 in the field, 10 at command post.

No oil birds or animals have been reported. A nearby tribal fish-rearing net pen was inspected and found to have no oil contamination.

Thursday, 3/1/2007   10:00 am

Most of the oil was carried by wind into the Smith Cove area, between the Elliott Bay Marina bulkhead and Pier 91. Skimmers collected oil in this area until no more could be recovered from the surface on Feb. 28.

Wednesday, 02/28/07 2:00 pm

The U.S. Coast Guard, Washington Department of Ecology, Washington State Maritime Cooperative, Port of Seattle, King County Sheriff’s Office, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife continue to respond to this morning’s oil spill from the Songa Hua.

Most of the oil was carried by wind into the Smith Cove area, between the Elliott Bay Marina bulkhead and Pier 91. Skimmers are collecting oil in this area. Oil has washed onto the bulkhead, pier pilings and shoreline. Small patches of oil sheen were observed to the west, off Magnolia Bluff, earlier this morning.

The following is a listing of the equipment and resources being used to respond to the spill:

Boom deployed: 7,000 feet of containment boom currently deployed at the eastern entry to the Elliott Bay Marina, and along Pier 91.

Response vessels deployed: Three oil skimming vessels, four fast-response vessels, four skiffs, and other workboats.

Personnel: 36 response personnel in the field; 18 at command post.

No oiled birds and animals have been reported.

Wednesday, 2/28/2007  10:34 am

Earlier this morning, a spill occurred from a bulk grain carrier being refueled by a barge on Elliott Bay.  An unknown amount of fuel – estimated in the low hundreds of gallons –spilled. An unknown portion was contained on the deck of the ship, the Songa Hua, the rest was spilled into water.

The oil discharged from a vent on the ship as it was being fueled from a barge early this morning.  The crew of the barge and tug deployed a 2,000-foot boom to contain some of the spill.

The Washington State Maritime Cooperative (WSMC), representing the Songa Hua, has hired cleanup contractors. WSMC is a non-profit representative of cargo vessel owners.


Date of Incident:
February 28, 2007

Approximately one-half mile south of Pier 91 in Elliott Bay, Seattle, Wash.

Type of oil: Intermediate Fuel Oil (powers large marine engines)

Amount of oil:
168 gallons of intermediate fuel oil; at least 93 of which spilled to Puget Sound

Responsible Party: Bulk carrier Songa Hua


Shipping firm pays $27,500 fine for Elliott Bay spill

USCG Press Release

Joint Information Center Update (March 1, 2007 at 12:00 pm)

Joint Information Center Update (March 1, 2007 at 10:00 am)

Press Release (February 28, 2007)


February 28, 2007


Lt. Cmdr. Rick Rodriguez
Public Affairs,
U.S. Coast Guard
(206) 384-1042

Larry Altose
Public Information,
Department of Ecology
(425) 649-7009