Significant Spill Happening in Penn Cove

A 128′ fishing vessel caught fire on Saturday and sunk Sunday.  What was initially reported as 100 gallons of fuel on board has turned out to be far greater. Today it was reported 1,900 gallons had been pumped out of the sunken vessel and a leak of 2 gallons/minute may have been plugged, after two days of leaking (if accurate, the leak alone is around 5,000 gallons). The boat was immediately adjacent to Penn Cove Shellfish whose annual production of mussels is over 1 million pounds. The link’s below with a picture of the boat and its proximity to Penn Cove’s mussel rafts after that.

Thanks to Jules for the report.


UPDATE as of 5/15

Whidbey News Times Staff reporter

Divers have successfully plugged the hole in the fuel tank of a 128-foot crab boat that caught fire and sank in Penn Cove this past weekend, but enough diesel leaked out that the state has closed the bay to shellfish harvesting.

According to Mark Toy, an environmental engineer with the state Department of Health, more diesel was in the boat than earlier thought and photos from the air have shown just how far the resulting sheen has spread.

"It looks like the oil sheen is pretty extensive," Toy said. "As of this morning, it went past the Coupeville Wharf."

For those reasons, the agency decided to issue a formal closure for the whole shellfish bed in the cove, he said. It will be effective immediately and will stay in effect for one week after the sheen dissipates.

At that time, a series of tests will be performed in accordance with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration standards. If everything checks out, the shellfish bed area will be reopened for harvesting.

Ian Jefferds, owner of Penn Cove Shellfish, said state officials had notified him of the closure prior to the issuance of a new release Tuesday afternoon.

"At this point it looks like we are going to be closed down for at least a week," Jefferds said.

Up until this point, the farm had voluntarily shut down harvesting since the vessel sank on Sunday.

The closure comes after the successful patching of the vessel’s leaking fuel tank. Petty Officer Nathan Bradshaw, a spokesman for the Coast Guard, confirmed late Tuesday that divers had patched the hole, which had been leaking diesel at a rate of about one to two gallons per minute.

Syphoning efforts are ongoing and, so far, about 2,100 gallons of diesel has been recovered. Once the tanks are empty, divers will then search the inside of the vessel for any other pollutants, such as portable gas cans or paints.

The fishing vessel Deep Sea caught fire late Saturday evening before sinking about 19 hours later on Sunday. It’s currently lying in about 60 feet of water just outside Penn Cove Shellfish’s mussel rafts.

Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Justin Burnett can be reached at or 360-675-6611 ext. 5054.


1,900 gallons of diesel pumped from sunken boat near shellfish farm

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