SEATTLE – The Coast Guard Unified Command, Washington State Department of Ecology, San Juan Office of Emergency Management and the Swinomish Tribe continue their coordinated response after a pollution incident erupted. is produced following the sinking of a commercial fishing vessel Aleutian Isle west of San Juan Island, Wash., Saturday, August 13.
On Monday afternoon, more than 2,100 feet of dams were placed in affected areas stretching from Smallpox Bay, near Sunset Point, to the south end of Henry Island. On-site observers use drones and other means to monitor the observable outburst to direct continued response action.
Commercial diving and salvage teams arrived at the scene on Saturday afternoon to remove the remaining fuel from the sunken vessel. With the necessary equipment, including decompression chambers, arriving and in place, dive operations began on Monday to assess the condition of the Aleutian Island and remove potentially hazardous materials from the wreckage. . To ensure a safe working environment for divers, safety zones extending 1,000 meters around all responding dive boats were established as of 7 a.m. and remain in effect.
Divers are working to plug the sunken ship’s vents to stop the release of diesel fuel before beginning lightening operations to remove remaining fuel from the ship.
The Coast Guard continues to manage marine traffic in the area. The teams on site can be contacted directly on the marine band VHF radio channel 16.
Diving operations maintain the priorities of safety and efficiency as the situation on site is dynamic and complex. A fishing net detached from the vessel has been observed in waters near diving operations, and crews are working to remove the net to ensure the safety of divers, on-site responders and wildlife. Additionally, the sunken vessel has moved to deeper waters, requiring further logistical considerations as underwater operations are carried out.
Along with the containment and recovery response for the preservation of ecologically sensitive areas, the protection of marine mammal species such as the Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) population continues to be a central priority.
Partner agencies, including the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and others, have established dedicated marine mammal acoustic deterrent teams at Snug Harbor. These deterrent methods were not necessary as no SRKWs were observed near the affected area.
The Ministry of Ecology continues to monitor air quality in nearby areas. No monitors showed results above background levels.
Unified Command is working alongside partner agencies, including Canada’s Regional Operations Center, to track SRKWs using hydrophone and sonogram technology. The whales were spotted near Port Angeles heading west and away from San Juan Island on Sunday evening and Monday morning.
An incident-specific web page was created by the Washington Department of Ecology. Development updates will also be posted periodically to the US Coast Guard Pacific Northwest social media accounts listed below.