On Monday, dive teams will work to recover diesel fuel and possibly salvage wreckage after a fishing vessel sank west of San Juan Island on Saturday.
The 49-foot commercial fishing vessel had around 2,500 gallons of diesel fuel and a combined 100 gallons of hydraulic fluid and lubricant oil aboard. Diesel fuel is now slowly leaking from the boat, which is at a depth of more than 100 feet.
All five crew members aboard the Aleutian Isle were rescued by a good Samaritan as the vessel sank, the Coast Guard announced.
Around 2 p.m., Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound got a report that the Aleutian Isle was taking on water near Sunset Point and was in need of emergency assistance.
An Air Station Port Angeles MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, a Station Bellingham 45-foot response boat, and the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Swordfish (WPB-87358) all responded, the Coast Guard said.
Once it knew that all crewmembers were accounted for, the Coast Guard started a pollution survey and began response efforts with partner agencies. Around 5 p.m., a visible oil sheen covering nearly 2 miles was seen on the water.
Because the incident happened near the maritime border, the Coast Guard is working with the Canadian Coast Guard Regional Operations Center, as well as the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management, Washington State Department of Ecology, the Island Oil Spill Association, and others.
“We are working with government and industry partners to ensure an efficient and effective containment and recovery response,” said Lt. Cdr. Brian Dykens, Sector Puget Sound incident management division chief. “The local public, the environment and protected marine species are our top priority.”
A plan was developed to contain and recover diesel fuel in the water, remove potential pollutants from the sunken boat, and potentially salvage the wreckage. Materials are in place to recover fuels and protect environmentally sensitive areas.
Divers will conduct an assessment, plug the boat’s vents and then begin the defueling process on Monday. A 1,000-foot safety zone will be in place around all responding dive boats.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is also conducting a resources-at-risk assessment and spill trajectory analysis, giving specific attention to protecting marine mammals in the area.
With the assistance of the Whale Museum of Friday Harbor, Coast Guard crews monitored southern resident orcas in the area overnight.
According to the Coast Guard, it appeared that the orcas moved west near Port Angeles.
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