80 gallons of oil spilled into Columbia Thursday

ABOUT 80 gallons of oil spilled from the Nord Auckland into the Columbia River, near Kalama, Wash., on Thursday.

Photo courtesy of Washington State Department of Ecology
ABOUT 80 gallons of oil spilled from the Nord Auckland into the Columbia River, near Kalama, Wash., on Thursday.

Roughly 80 gallons of oil were spilled into the Columbia River by a vessel near Kalama, Wash., the state’s environmental agency said Friday.

The Nord Auckland, a 618-foot ship flagged in Singapore, reportedly spilled the waste oil during an internal oil transfer on Thursday morning.

The cause is still under investigation, but according to Department of Ecology documents, the source of the spill was secured and no additional spills are expected.

“They reported 80 gallons in the river, but it’s important to know that was the (crew’s) assessment, not ours,” said Krista Kenner, a spokeswoman for Ecology. “The spill on deck was larger than that.”

Ecology said the spill caused an oil slick 45 feet wide and one-half to three-quarters of a mile long, with oil streamers reaching approximately 10 miles downstream.

According to U.S. Coast Guard documents, some oil was seen near shorelines and near wildlife areas.

The ship reported the spill to the Clean Rivers Cooperative, who had two booming vessels on scene with crews working on the cleanup. The efforts are overseen by the Coast Guard and Ecology.

Around 10:05 a.m., personnel at the National Response Center reported sheening in the water to the watch-standers at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River. Pollution response experts from the Portland-based Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit arrived on the scene at around 1 p.m.

Kenner said Ecology staff were doing on-site assessments on Friday morning. They saw light sheening at different locations in the river, but, so far, didn’t find any significant accumulations. So far, the agency hasn’t found concentrations large enough to warrant a cleanup but was prepared to do so if necessary.

“So far, there have been no reports of wildlife directly impacted, though we know there are large concentrations of wildlife in the area,” Kenner said.

Launched in 2010, the Nord Auckland is a bulk carrier displacing 22,683 gross register tons, according to the website marinetraffic.com. It was bound to Kalama to load wheat for export when the spill occurred, according to a Columbia River shipping website.

On Friday, it was anchored in the river just downstream of the Port of Kalama’s grain terminal, according to marinetraffic.com.

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