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Spill spurs harvest closures in Hood Canal, Port Gamble Bay
By KIPP ROBERTSON
and RICHARD WALKER
BANGOR — The U.S. Navy is leading a multi-agency response to an estimated 2,000-gallon oily discharge into Hood Canal, which resulted in shellfish harvesting closures throughout the canal.
According to the state Department of Ecology, sheen was visible over a nine-mile stretch of the sound. Sheen was visible at 9 a.m. Feb. 12 at the Hood Canal Bridge.
The state Department of Health initiated a precautionary shellfish-harvest closure for Hood Canal. Around the bend in Port Gamble Bay, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe also took precautions.
“We are closing all geoduck harvesting in the bay and adjacent to the bay,” Port Gamble S’Klallam Chairman Jeromy Sullivan said Feb. 12. “We are not allowing any harvesting of oysters and clams until we assess what’s going on and assure it’s safe for everybody.”
The spill was reported to Ecology at 1:15 p.m. Feb. 11, according to Joye Redfield-Wilder, Washington Department of Ecology spokeswoman.
The spill occurred during a transfer of oily discharge from a ship docked at Naval Base Kitsap — Bangor, according to base public affairs officer Tom Danaher.
“A system failure in the pier-side transfer system” caused an overflow that spilled onto the pier and into Hood Canal, Danaher reported. “Pumping ceased, a containment boom was employed and trained Port Operations personnel began clean up using vacuum trucks and absorbent pads until sunset.”
An investigation into the system failure and the environmental impact was started and clean-up resumed early Feb. 12 at sunrise. “NBK’s oil spill recovery team continues to recover the oily micro-sheen from the spill area,” Danaher reported.
Others involved in the response are Ecology and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Above, unidentified divers enter Hood Canal on the Jefferson County side, near an oily sheen, Feb. 12. Oily discharge spilled from a ship at Naval Base Kitsap — Bangor during a ship-to-pier transfer on Feb. 11. An estimated 2,000 gallons of oily discharge spilled into Hood Canal, a base spokesman reported. Richard Walker / Herald