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Deep Sea Fire and Spill

Whidbey Island, Penn Cove, WA | 2012-May-14

Initial Notification: May 12 through May 16, 2012 Washington State Department of Ecology, U.S. Coast Guard, Camano Island Fire & Rescue, and North Whidbey Fire and Rescue responded to a boat fire on the anchored 128-foot fishing vessel Deep Sea, located in Penn Cove off Whidbey Island, Saturday May 12. The Coast Guard established a 500-yard safety zone and federal, state and local authorities allowed the vessel to burn due to concerns of the vessel sinking if firefighting activities continued. On Sunday, May 14, the Deep Sea unexpectedly sank with an unknown amount of diesel fuel on board. Oil skimming vessels placed oil containment boom around the area of the sunken vessel. The Coast Guard hired Ballard Diving & Salvage Co. to plug vents and seal the vessel’s fuel tanks. However, a cracked vent allowed fuel to leak from the sunken vessel at an estimated rate of 2 gallons per minute. On May 14, some commercial shellfish operations in Penn Cove voluntarily stopped harvesting on before fuel reached nearby mussel rafts. The volume of diesel spilled from the boat grew through Monday, leaving a very thin coating of oil over the commercial operation, leading the Washington Department of Health to close the area. Recreational shellfish harvesting in Penn Cove was also temporarily closed. The oil sheen was too thin to remove from the water. Ecology has been monitoring shoreline areas for potential environmental effects from the spill. Some sheen had reached the shore in places. Ecology is analyzing water samples collected help evaluate environmental impacts from the spill. There have been no injured or killed mammals or fish observed or reported. The Washington Department of Natural Resources is developing options for salvaging the vessel. The Coast Guard has opened the federal Oil Spill Liability Fund to pay for response efforts. NOAA ERD has been requested to create trajectories for potential releases during salvage operations and to assist the WA State Department of Health in connecting to NOAA's Seafood Inspection Program for sensory testing.

Incident Details
Primary threat:Oil
Products of concern:Diesel
Total amount at risk of spill: 3600 gallons
Latitude (approximate): 48° 13.67′ North
Longitude (approximate): 122° 42.38′ West
On-Water Recovery: Applied
Shoreline Cleanup: Evaluated but not used
Dispersants: Unknown/Not applicable
In-Situ Burn: Unknown/Not applicable
Bioremediation: Unknown/Not applicable