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Oil Spill Fine Should Keep You in Line

by Norris Comer

New penalties are fallout from 2015 incident

OilSpillKeeping our boats in good condition is not only important for our enjoyment on the water, but also for our pocketbooks, the environment we all enjoy, and for the greater good of the communities we live in. Case in point, vessel owners were recently fined $47,500 by the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) for a 2015 Port Orchard oil spill when their boat sank and polluted the area.

The vessel owners failed to keep a 58-year-old former fishing vessel, Tango, afloat. The 69-foot wooden vessel sank at her dock and spilled an estimated 751 gallons of primarily diesel oil into Sinclair Inlet. Investigators determined a power cable came loose from an electrical service box on the dock and, as a result, six pumps that were working overtime to keep the vessel from sinking stopped operating.

“This was a bad ending to a series of problems with the Tango,” said Dale Jensen, Ecology’s spills program manager, in a press release. “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.” Previously, the vessel took on water and nearly sank in March 2014, but responders deployed powerful pumps to save the boat.

We best learn from stories like this one. Be responsible owners and don’t be too proud to accept help, especially if it is free. Ecology penalties can be appealed to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board, but we best do what we can to avoid a major spill, and major headache, all together.

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