Coast Guard, ecology crews respond to fuel spill near San Juan Island


WASHINGTON — The U.S. Coast Guard and state ecology crews continued working Monday to clean up a diesel and oil spill after a fishing boat sank off the island of San Juan Saturday night. Coast Guard officials established a unified command Sunday morning and coordinated a response to reach the sunken “Aleutian Island” near Sunset Point.

Officials said there was a visible glow that extended more than two miles and the ship reportedly entered Canadian waters. At the time of the sinking, officials said the ship was carrying 2,500 gallons of diesel and 100 gallons of hydraulic fluid and lubricating oil.

The Coast Guard dispatched crews along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Whale Museum and Sound Watch to monitor the area overnight for marine mammals, including all southern resident killer whales. Fortunately, officials said no Southerners appeared to be in close proximity to the pollution zone.

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A Coast Guard cutter stayed on site to direct vessels through the area while commercial divers and salvage teams work to contain and recover contaminants. Coast Guard officials said Aleutian Island is about 100 feet below the surface.

In updates shared late Monday morning, the Coast Guard shared drone footage of the spill area and said more than 2,100 feet of absorbent boom had been deployed to capture oil from the water’s surface. Dive teams continued to work to secure the vents and dump the ship’s remaining fuel into a tank.

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Readers can find updates on containment efforts through the Washington State Department of Ecology.

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