Fishing boat leaking fuel sinks deeper complicating response near Victoria – Sooke News Mirror

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Partner response agencies have deployed approximately 2,100 feet of sorbent booms in waters between Greater Victoria and San Juan Island since a fishing boat sank and fuel leaked Aug. 13. (US Coast Guard Pacific Northwest/Twitter)
Response vessels loaded with vacuum trucks work off the coast of San Juan Island.  (Photo by U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest)Response vessels loaded with vacuum trucks work off the coast of San Juan Island. (Photo by U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest)
The location of the Aleutian Island fishing boat which sank August 13 causing a fuel spill off the west coast of San Juan Island near Greater Victoria.  (Washington State Department of Ecology)The location of the Aleutian Island fishing boat which sank August 13 causing a fuel spill off the west coast of San Juan Island near Greater Victoria. (Washington State Department of Ecology)

On Monday, crews struggled to find a fishing boat that had sunk days earlier with 10,000 liters of fuel on board, causing a spill in an ecologically important area for killer whales off Greater Victoria.

Since the Aleutian Island commercial fishing boat sank near San Juan Island on Saturday August 13, the response has seen 2,100ft of sorbent booms deployed in the affected area and tracking of southern resident killer whales .

US-based environmental agencies are ready to deploy an acoustic marine mammal deterrent from San Juan Island’s Snug Harbor to ward off the whales. As of Tuesday morning, this action was unnecessary as killer whales had not been seen in the spill area – which is about 15 kilometers east of Greater Victoria and is an important feeding area for endangered mammals.

The whales were spotted west of Port Angeles on Monday, at least 50 kilometers from the site of the spill, but experts said they could swim that distance in about a day. However, officials said the animals were heading west that morning.

On Monday, the US Coast Guard said divers aimed to remove “potentially hazardous material” from the wreckage, but were initially unable to locate the ship despite tracking its position by sonar. Divers hoped to plug the ship’s diesel vents, but the Aleutian island moved underwater, falling from a depth of around 30 meters mid-Sunday to 60 meters (200 feet) 36 hours later late.

“This presents additional logistical challenges that the dive team is working to resolve,” the Coast Guard said in an Aug. 15 statement.

A response spokesperson said it would take different tactics to reach the boat. The Coast Guard brings in a remotely operated vehicle to deal with the increased depth of the wreckage.

On Tuesday, crews had to retrieve a fishing net that had detached from the boat and was floating on the surface.

A morning update said divers will also try to pull out a second submerged net 30 meters underwater. The net removals will keep divers, on-site responders and wildlife safe, the Coast Guard said.

Drones and helicopters have reported a decrease in water shine due to fuel leakage.

The Aleutian Island contained mostly diesel when she sank, but also had oil and hydraulic fluid on board. Authorities did not measure any abnormal air quality resulting from the spill.

A team was also due to conduct shoreline assessments on Tuesday. Sightings of oiled animals can be reported to 1-800-22-BIRDS.

– with files from The Canadian Press

Greater VictoriaOrcaSouthern Resident Killer Whales


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