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Astoria Oil Spill

by Evin Moore


The U.S. Coast Guard is finishing its clean-up of an oil spill on the Columbia River first reported on January 18, 2018 near the Cannery Pier Hotel in Astoria, Washington. The source of the oil was at first unknown; dangerous conditions made it difficult for divers to search under the pier. When conditions improved, the source of the oil was determined to be a punctured 16′-by-6’oil tank underneath a pier.

The dilapidated pier fell on the tank, piercing it and causing the spill. The tank, whose existence was unknown to the hotel, was installed in 1921 and used to fire cannery boilers. The leaking tank, removed on January 30, contained over 2,200 gallons of bunker oil. This oil was removed by the Coast Guard, as well as 3,400 feet of contaminated hard boom. Approximately 6,150 gallons of an oily water mixture was removed with skimmers and a vacuum truck.

The Coast Guard, working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, reported there has been minimal impact on vegetation and no accounts of contaminated animals.

Clean-up has taken over 6,800 man hours; 2,160 of those from the Coast Guard and 4,700 from contractors. The Coast Guard left containment boom and an absorbent boom in place, and the booms will likely remain there for months. Twenty cubic yards of oil-contaminated material was removed; the marina-side seawall was decontaminated and the oil on the riverside seawall will be left to breakdown naturally. The Coast Guard continues to monitor the clean-up as the absorbent boom collects oil. The total cost of the spill is estimated at $900,000, which will be covered by the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

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