UPDATE: Vandalism/theft blamed for fuel spill into Longfellow Creek

7:02 PM: A reader texted us that photo late today, saying the state Department of Ecology was investigating a reported fuel spill into Longfellow Creek at the West Seattle Golf Course. “Dead fish and odor in the creek on the 12th hole,” the text said. We contacted an Ecology spokesperson, who had not heard about it; since then, Seattle Public Utilities has tweeted, “Vandalism of an approximately 250-300-gallon gasoline storage tank has caused a fuel spill at City of Seattle’s West Seattle Golf Course. Gasoline has reached Longfellow Creek. SPU’s Spill Response team is on site and coordinating with (Ecology).” More as we get it.

7:51 PM: Just talked with the Ecology spokesperson we originally spoke with earlier, Ty Keltner, as well as with SPU spokesperson Sabrina Register. Keltner said Seattle Parks first discovered the spill early this morning, then contacted SPU, and notified Ecology this afternoon. A cleanup contractor already has been hired, they said, and they confirmed that dead fish were found and so the Department of Fish and Wildlife is involved in the investigation. Register said the cleanup and SPU personnel have booms out and will be on scene overnight; she’s not sure exactly how much got into the creek and how much of the fuel was stolen, but she says Parks recovered about 70 gallons.

9:13 PM: Our original tipster says they first reported this to Parks after noticing it while walking the golf course this morning. They shared a photo of what they described as the area where the tank is, by the golf course’s maintenance shed:

“The gas was flowing from there and then into the catch basin by the 18th tee box,” they said.

12:25 PM SATURDAY: We’re working on a detailed followup (coming up separately later this afternoon) after talking with SPU at the spill site and seeing cleanup crews at the creek. Not much additional information yet but cleanup work continues.

32 Replies to "UPDATE: Vandalism/theft blamed for fuel spill into Longfellow Creek"

  • Pdxmark77 January 17, 2020 (7:18 pm)

    I live next door to the creek and walked down it a little bit by the Dragonfly Pavilion and did not notice anything unusual or smells.  But it’s also dark out so couldn’t really see the creek

  • flimflam January 17, 2020 (7:27 pm)

    great. who does something like this for “fun”?

    • WSB January 17, 2020 (8:10 pm)

      Could have been fuel theft involved -though the original mention was vandalism, I just spoke with SPU and they said theft might have been involved -in the sense that they don’t know how many gallons spilled – Parks has recovered 70 gallons, the tank held at least 250.

    • Alex S. January 18, 2020 (9:20 am)

      Everybody knows what kind of person usually steals fuel around here – and what they use it for.  But the practitioners of political correctness at the city have to pretend it was an accident or “vandalism”

      • WSB January 18, 2020 (11:13 am)

        No one is ‘pretending’ anything. We just left the golf course & creek, where SPU discussed the cleanup. They’re now describing it as ‘theft.’ One problem is that speaking about this is all on their shoulders right now though their only real share of this operation is the cleanup. It may take till Tuesday to get info from Parks, SPD, etc. Separate story later today – TR

  • Pdxmark77 January 17, 2020 (7:31 pm)

    There are also no signs up saying stay away from the creek.  Remember that possible spill a few months ago?  They had signs up everywhere along the creek to stay away from the water .

  • pdxmark77 January 17, 2020 (8:11 pm)

    KIRO 7 just interviewed me, and it’s definitely a lot worst now than before.  Can see the fuel and smell it off of the foot bridge by the health clib

    • WSB January 17, 2020 (8:24 pm)

      We checked out the footbridge area since the crews on the golf course are on the other side of the Genesee fence and our camera won’t even pick that up. No booms or crews in sight at your end there. Hoping to get access to the cleanup zone tomorrow.

      • pdxmark77 January 17, 2020 (8:36 pm)

        Yeah, they had a couple of bright lights with them and could see the spill, and once in awhile could get a good smell of the fuel.  With the light I had, couldn’t see much 

  • Youngstown January 17, 2020 (8:50 pm)

    As a person in construction. I’m very curious to see how light rail plans on protecting the creek during construction.

    • J.A. January 18, 2020 (11:43 am)

      I have been wondering that as well. Hopefully they can fix this quickly and prevent further destruction of  Longfellow Creek. Unfortunately the only answer from them has been, “This is what the voters voted for” “the our preferred plan” However they seem  to want to ignore the voters decision on other initiates. (?) Apparently the voters didn’t understand  that they were being ripped off by over evaluation. I hope they still have money left after the millions  they lost fighting the car tab fee to build it right and not cut environmental standards. 

      • Alex S. January 20, 2020 (2:19 pm)

        Sound Transit isn’t spending any money “fighting the car tab fee” so they aren’t losing a dime. Seattle, King County and a number of other parties have filed suit. 

    • JaG January 18, 2020 (12:02 pm)

      Valid question. Not in construction but curious as well. Sustainability of the very fragile salmon population and clean water ways should be a priority for all public, private and governmental organizations. There has been a lot of volunteer hours spent turning it around. Is there a system in place for volunteers to help with the cleanup?

      • WSB January 18, 2020 (12:18 pm)

        Right now what they’re doing is fairly specialized – trying to soak up fuel in the creek. No volunteers involved. Maybe down the line, though. And a sad reminder of all the work that’s been put into restoration was just steps from where we photographed cleanup workers – a cluster of blue-tagged plants in pots, waiting to be put in the ground – near the stairs to/from Genesee.

      • Youngstown January 18, 2020 (1:16 pm)

        I spoke to the contractor who remodeled the last (most east) house on the stretch of SW Genesee between Avalon and Delridge. He told me the homeowner was stuck with a “grandfathered” in structure. Code from the Greenway prevented the owner from even tearing down the building. AKA. no teardown and new construction, only interior remodeling allowed. I’m 100% for that code, because I know first-hand the pollution construction causes, and also love the thought of a clean, local creek. I just hope our local residents hold sound transit to the same environmental standards that we as homeowners are.

    • JaG January 18, 2020 (12:10 pm)

      Good point. Sustainability of the very fragile salmon population and clean water ways should be a priority for everyone public, private and governmental organizations. Does anyone know if there is a system in place for volunteers to help with the cleanup? 

  • Dan January 17, 2020 (10:29 pm)

    If this was discovered this morning why in the hell did it take until evening to begin clean up?  Why is it that anything to do with the City of Seattle requires dropping the ball and failure to act effectively?

    • WSB January 17, 2020 (10:46 pm)

      Crews were on scene earlier. We just didn’t hear about it sooner. I called Ecology at 4 pm, not long after the text tip. The spokesperson said he hadn’t heard about anything but would check around and get back to me. He didn’t until 7:29 pm, which was more than an hour after SPU’s tweet. I apologize for not having just gone over to look as soon as we got that text ; that’s what we usually do when we get tips about many things, but this time we didn’t … TR

      • WSRedux January 18, 2020 (7:26 am)

        It seems to me that a fuel storage tank of this size should have video monitoring and also should have a protective berm or enclosure to capture leaks or spillage, especially when it is close to an environmentally sensitive area such as Longfellow creek. With fuel theft an increasing problem, I hope City takes this as a wake up call and beefs up security and environmental safety measures at any Parks/City location that stores fuel. 

    • KM January 18, 2020 (8:54 am)

      Your anger is misdirected. The City is not responsible for the oil spill, it was vandalism.

      • Dan January 18, 2020 (6:54 pm)

        Im not angry at the city for this happening, Im angry because time after time after time after time things happen and the city fails to respond appropriately, in a timely manner or has taken any steps to be proactive towards handling a problem.  It jist seems rediculous how high our tax rates are for a government that plans and acts so poorly.

  • chemist January 18, 2020 (12:33 am)

    Did we ever find out what the bill/fines were for La Mexicana with their smaller spill?

    One week after dozens of gallons of cooking oil fouled a White Center stormwater-retention pond, coating waterfowl with oil, the local company La Mexicana has taken responsibility, the state Ecology Department just announced: A food products company has voluntarily accepted responsibility for an accidental cooking oil spill that flowed through storm drains into a nearby stormwater pond.  La Mexicana, Inc., based in the White Center area, has discovered that the oil came from one of its facilities. The company has agreed to pay for cleaning up the spill and rescuing ducks and geese affected by the oil.

  • Bob January 18, 2020 (6:43 am)

    Why do they need to have a 250-300-gallon gasoline storage tank next to Longfellow Creek?

    • Anne January 18, 2020 (9:28 am)

      Just  a wild guess-the gasoline is used by Golf Course -for golf carts -mowers-other machinery/vehicle maintenance .

    • KM January 18, 2020 (10:20 am)

      Golf course :-( They must use it for their maintenance and grounds vehicles. Maybe other uses too? It’s one of the issues with golf courses in environmentally fragile areas.

    • uncle loco January 18, 2020 (12:05 pm)

      I doubt that its right next to the creek. I would assume its near their maintenance building uphill from the creek.

      • WSB January 18, 2020 (12:15 pm)

        Having just been to the site, now we’re clearer on the locations involved: No, the fuel tank is NOT next to, or even near, the creek – it’s by the maintenance building on the far northeast edge of the stadium/golf course parking lot. The fuel went in the storm drain, and from there, into the creek. As SPU and others have long tried to remind people – our storm drains may be meant or rainwater but catch all sorts of other runoff, and they go into the nearest body of water – in this case, Longfellow Creek. This was a criminal act but everyday non-criminal activities pollute local waterways too.

  • sam-c January 18, 2020 (7:29 am)

    This is so awful. Can’t believe someone would do this.  Didn’t see anything unusal at the fish bridge portion ofthe creek (Friday, mid-afternoon).  UGH

  • Mj January 18, 2020 (11:31 am)

    So frustrating, I hope the vandals are caught and made to pay the cost of the damages!

  • AMD January 18, 2020 (12:26 pm)

    There have been a number of incidents of gas siphoning/theft in Highland Park as of late (not sure how many have been reported).  I have been confused about the uptick in this specific crime because it seems so random.  Nothing has really changed as far as I can tell in the last year that would explain why suddenly everyone wants to steal gas.  I don’t know if this is at all connected to the smaller gas thefts or if it’s part of a bigger trend or just a coincidence.  So weird.  Hopefully they can get most of the spilled fuel out of the environment sooner than later.

  • lookingforlogic January 18, 2020 (12:50 pm)

    Gross.  Prioritize tax money to secure all fuel tanks and hazardous materials. It doesn’t take much to cause catastrophic damage let alone the filth of leaks.

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