(EDITOR’S NOTE: Salvage and cleanup operations continue as of late Friday afternoon. We will update this story until launching a new one this evening.)
8:37 AM: Here’s what’s going on along the 5400 block of Beach Drive that has brought out the Coast Guard and the Fire Department, among others: There was a report of a boat sinking; by the time authorities arrived, it had sunk. It’s a 35-40-foot boat that’s been working on a private project along the shore.
(Photo by Christopher Boffoli for WSB)
No one is believed to have been on board. But they’re trying to evaluate what to do next. We’ve got a crew at the scene.
9:09 AM: Yes, this is what the helicopters were looking at – keep in mind that it happened before the TV morning-news daypart had ended. The boat apparently had been toting rocks related to a bulkhead-building project on shore, in tandem with a floating crane (which was not involved in the sinking). The construction crew involved with the project told WSB that the boat sunk within five minutes of starting to list. Again, no one was on board – but the boat was laden with rocks. And as commenters are pointing out, there is a fuel slick now to deal with. We’ll be tracking that part of it with authorities. Thanks, by the way, to everyone who texted/called/e-mailed/etc. about this.
(Photo by Christopher Boffoli for WSB)
9:40 AM: We’ve just gone back to check on the scene again – there’s now a containment boom out. Beach Drive Blog had covered the construction project to which this is apparently related.
10 AM UPDATE: New information from the U.S. Coast Guard: Salvage divers were summoned to the scene. The vessel that went down is described as 73 feet long. It had 300 gallons of diesel and 30 to 50 gallons of motor oil; the Coast Guard says crews were working to “plug the fuel vents” before it went down. (A neighbor tells WSB that it was listing for quite some time before it went down.) The sheen is described as 150 by 50 feet.
10:21 AM UPDATE: New photo – in addition to the boom, absorbent pads are being put in the water to help clean up the oil. The Department of Ecology is involved in this too, and says “the boat owner did not make proper notifications.” The Coast Guard says that’s Waterfront Construction, which it has labeled the “responsible party.”
12:15 PM UPDATE: Neighbor Lura (thank you!) caught the actual sinking of the vessel before it went under, which Beach Drive Blog says is the Justin, went under – we’ve tried to sharpen it up a bit; look close alongside the barge:
Also for BDB, Rob Porter reports via Twitter that water’s being pumped off the barge.
1 PM UPDATE: The Coast Guard has put together its official summary of what’s happening. New information includes news of a contractor brought in to clean up the spill.
1:23 PM UPDATE: Mike sent photos, saying some of it has washed up south of the sinking:
He’s in the 5900 block of Beach Drive, several blocks south.
4:05 PM UPDATE: Thanks to Colby Chester for a bird’s-eye view of what the slick looked like a few hours ago:
The Coast Guard has published another update, acknowledging that some of the sheen has reached the shore, and saying it appeared to be breaking up. We were down at the scene a little while ago and they were doing flyovers to gauge its size. There’s a 500-yard “safety zone” around the spill and, says the Coast Guard update, “An estimated 1,600 feet of hard boom and 300 feet of soft boom have been deployed to contain and absorb oil from the water.” They expect to continue cleanup till nightfall, and to resume it in the morning as needed; salvage operations for the sunken vessel will continue into the night. The state Ecology Department also has an update, with sheen aerials, here.
4:36 PM UPDATE: We also have heard from a spokesperson for the owners of the vessel, which they describe as 75 feet, and confirm is the Justin:
Waterfront Construction, the owner of the 75’ vessel “Justin” that sank in the Puget Sound early this morning, has contracted with NRC Environmental Services to contain the surface sheen released from the vessel.
NRC Environmental Services has multiple spill response vessels and skimmers on scene and has deployed containment boom. Additional boom is on scene and ready to be deployed as needed. Marine and shoreline emergency response trailers as well as vacuum trucks are standing by for additional support, should they be required. In the first few hours, divers were brought in to plug fuel vents to stop the release of the fuel on board. Salvage experts from Ballard Diving & Salvage have been contracted by Waterfront Construction to perform underwater inspections of the vessel and create a salvage plan to raise the ex-military Landing Craft from the Puget Sound waters as quickly and safely as possible.
“Waterfront Construction appreciates the unified response that has been assisting with this unfortunate event and is doing everything in its power to clean the waters as quickly as possible”, states Keith Landry, Project Manager of Waterfront Construction.
In a followup exchange, the spokesperson told us it’s too soon to tell how soon they will try to bring up the Justin, as they are still working on the plan.