Enforce Sen. Magnuson’s ‘little amendment’ to protect Salish Sea – Seattle Times

One of the best things that Magnuson ever did was to get this amendment passed. Since the 70s, we have minimized our risks with this law. As the article points out, environmental groups like Friends of the Earth and Friends of the San Juans have been fighting hard for years over the lack of enforcement by the Army Corps of Engineers and others. The Corps, as long-time readers of this blog know, are hell bent to do whatever industry asks of them, including hiding key documents in lawsuits and not upholding the laws when it suits industry. They have proven themselves unworthy of public trust.

A good article that summarizes where we are at with the Magnuson Act some 45 years later.

Enforce Sen. Magnuson’s ‘little amendment’ to protect Salish Sea | The Seattle Times

The Nestucca: How a devastating event shaped today

The Nestucca disaster changed the way that Washington State and BC handles oil spill prevention. Can it protect us from another failure? It’s sometimes hard to know. With more Bakken Crude planning to be shipped by the hundreds of tankers through our Strait, it’s at least good to know that we have some minimal standards that have carried us through to today. Also worth remembering is that the Dalco Passage spill near Tacoma that was as bad as it was because the Coast Guard couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed in the middle of the night when oil was observed. This is article is a good reminder that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

“In 1988, an oil spill from the barge Nestucca resulted in one of the largest, most damaging environmental incidents in the history of Washington. But the knowledge gained from the spill also led to dramatic change in oil spill regulations, prevention methods, and response tactics that have maximized environmental protection. (WA Dept of Ecology)”

The Nestucca: How a devastating event shaped today

Oil spill in Fidalgo Bay appears contained, Ecology says – Seattle Times

Here we go again. We apparently got lucky this time. A “small” spill. Though to be clear, there is no such thing. Why? Because, as written in “Conserve Energy Future” is

What is common in all of them is that the damage caused by them is permanent and takes a long time to clean up.

Friday at the Shell Puget Sound Refinery in Anacortes.

According to Shell and the Washington Department of Ecology: The spill occurred at about 11:30 p.m. as a Crowley Maritime barge was transferring about 5 million gallons of crude oil from Alaska to the refinery. It appears that a much smaller quantity spilled, though the amount was still unknown, said Ty Keltner, Ecology’s communications manager for spill response.



It’s been 30 years since the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Here’s what we’re still learning from that environmental debacle. – Hakai Magazine

Some facts on the ground. While the press may have moved on, the oil hasn’t. Why we are so adamant about new oil spill regulations in Olympia as Canada gears up to put hundreds of more oil freighters into our joint use Strait. Whatever could go wrong?

Before dawn on March 24, 1989, Dan Lawn stepped off of a small boat and onto the boarding ladder dangling from the side of the grounded Exxon Valdez oil tanker. As he made the crossover, he peered down into the water of Prince William Sound, and saw, in the glare of the lights, an ugly spectacle he would never forget. “There was a 3-foot wave of oil boiling out from under the ship, recalls Lawn, who was then a Valdez-based Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation employee helping to watchdog the oil industry. “You couldn’t do anything to stop it.”… Eventually, the oil would foul parts of 1,300 miles of coastline, killing marine life ranging from microscopic planktons to orcas in an accident that would change how the maritime oil-transportation industry does business in Alaska, and to a lesser extent, elsewhere in the world. Hal Bernton and Lynda Makes report. (Seattle Times) See also: Wounded Wilderness: The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill 30 Years Later  On the surface, Prince William Sound appears to have recovered. But you don’t have to dig too deep—into the soil or into memories—to find the spill’s lingering effects. Tim Lydon reports. (Hakai Magazine)

It’s been 30 years since the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Here’s what we’re still learning from that environmental debacle.

Rescued barge adrift off B.C. coast to be towed to Alaska, First Nation relieved – Canadian Press

Narrowly missed having a major spill.

A British Columbia First Nation is breathing a sigh of relief as a barge carrying millions of litres of fuel was removed from its harbour on the central coast. The barge broke away from a U.S.-registered tugboat, the Jake Shearer, southwest of Bella Bella last Sunday…. The barge was carrying 12.5 million litres of diesel and gasoline… four times the volume initially estimated. (Canadian Press)


Sailor on watch admits ‘I fell asleep’ in report on fuel spill off B.C. coast – CBC

Why we need rescue tugs on the coast, and why we need regulations about multiple members of the crew on watch. These things are preventable, and the industry should be paying to have proper crews on their boats. The cost to the First Nations and the B.C. taxpayers should not be borne because of staffing issues caused to wring the last dime of profit from the transport of oil.

A crewmember who fell asleep during his watch was likely responsible for the grounding of a tug that caused thousands of litres of fuel to spill into the waters off Bella Bella, B.C., according to an American government safety agency. The second mate of the Nathan E. Stewart had been on watch for a little more than two hours when the tug ran aground in the Seaforth Channel in the early hours of Oct. 13, 2016, a marine accident brief from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says. Bethany Lindsay reports. (CBC)


B.C. government’s lack of progress on oil spill response highlighted by tug accident- Globe & Mail

Just to the north of us, they are still struggling with the lack of resources that the Harper Government dedicated to oil spill prevention, along with the removal of Coast Guard stations. Doesn’t bode well for increased tanker traffic from Vancouver, as is planned.  BC Premier Christy Clark has, for years, done virtually nothing to fix the situation, while blaming Ottawa for a lack of funds. All the while BC profits from the shipping of the oil, the dock traffic, and jobs associated with the industry. And she still is blaming this on Ottawa.

In 2012 the B.C. government set out five conditions that must be met before the province supports two proposed pipelines that would greatly increase tanker traffic on the West Coast. No.2 on that list is the establishment of a “world-leading marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery system.” Last week the lack of progress on that point was underlined in dramatic fashion when U.S.-registered tug Nathan E. Stewart ran aground while pushing a huge fuel barge in a narrow passage just north of Bella Bella. Fortunately for the Great Bear Rainforest and the Heiltsuk people who live there, barge DBL 55 was empty. But an incident report filed in 2011 by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation gives a sense of how bad the accident could have been, had the 91-metre fuel barge been loaded. On Dec. 21 that year, the same tug and barge combination went adrift after an engine failed near Cape Fairweather, in the Gulf of Alaska. Mark Hume reports. (Globe and Mail)


See also: Diesel spill near Bella Bella an ‘environmental disaster,’ says nearby First Nationhttp://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/british-columbia/clean-up-continues-after-tug-sinks-near-bella-bella-1.3808493 (CBC)

The Impacts of a Grays Harbor Oil Spill, in 13 Slides – Siteline

Huge money from Big Oil pollutes our political system in Washington State to gain access to exporting oil to China and Japan, a move that the Republican Congress is trying to get done, but can’t with Obama in power. The oil companies are trying to push through three large oil terminals for Grays Harbor. Here’s an overview, by Siteline of what that could mean. Want to take action on this? Contact our two state representatives for the Peninsula (or yours whereever you live) and our one State Senator (who is from the Aberdeen Hoquim area). There contact info is listed on the left side of my blog front page.

How Big Oil jeopardizes Washington coastal tourism and the Quinault Nation.

Three large oil terminals proposed for Grays Harbor could undermine the region’s economy and local culture. That’s the takeaway from two recent economic analyses: first, a study on coastal recreation in Washington from the Surfrider Foundation and marine technology firm Point 97; then, Economic Impacts of Crude Oil Transportation on the Quinault Indian Nation and the Local Economy, published by economic consulting firm Resource Dimensions.

A lot more on this at Siteline.


Siteline is one of my must read daily feeds. If you end up enjoying this article, join me in donating anything to their cause. Even $5 to $10.

Cargo Ship Loses Steering just west of Port Angeles. Towed safely to PA for repairs.

Another reason all our work on getting rescue tugs and others involved in the protection of the Strait was a good idea. This time the rescue tug was not needed, but another tug from PA came to the rescue. I’ll update this story if there is reason to.

A cargo ship lost steering off Port Angeles just after midnight Wednesday and was towed into the Port Angeles Harbor for repair. The state Department of Ecology received a report from the state Emergency Management Division that the Grand Quest lost steering 6 nautical miles northwest of Port Angeles in the Strait of Juan de Fuca just after 12:15 a.m. The Grand Quest is a 587-foot Panama-flagged auto carrier that left Astoria, Ore., at 5:35 p.m. Tuesday, and was on its way to Tacoma, according to the ship’s GPS locator beacon. The Brian S., a Port Angeles-based tug, towed the ship to anchor in Port Angeles at about 3 a.m., said Petty Officer Katelyn Tyson, a Coast Guard spokeswoman.

Cargo ship loses steering, towed to Port Angeles for repairs  http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20130704/NEWS/307049991/cargo-ship-loses-steering-towed-to-port-angeles-for-repairs

BC Coast Guard Union Voices Concerns over Oil Shipments

The battle for protection of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the BC Coast goes on north of the border. The BC union of Coast Guard workers came out yesterday against Canadian Government proposals to slash the vessel monitoring stations along the coast. Additionally, they are looking to ease vessel call in rules as they approach the Strait. As stated in this column in earlier entries, our government and tribes ought to be protesting loudly to the Canadians about this issue. In a few years it will be too late.


Washingtonians honored for their oil spill prevention work

OLYMPIA – The state and provincial organization coordinating oil spill prevention and response efforts in the Pacific region will honor two Washingtonians for their tireless efforts to protect state waters from spills, especially Puget Sound.

The Pacific States-British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force will present its 2012 Legacy Awards to Kathy Fletcher, founder of People For Puget Sound, and Eric Olsson, Washington Sea Grant Program – along with recipients from elsewhere in the region – at the organization’s annual Clean Pacific Conference on May 16, 2012, in Long Beach, Calif.

The task force was created in 1989 in the wake of a 231,000-gallon oil spill in December 1988 off the Washington coast near Ocean Shores. The spill fouled beaches from northern Oregon to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Members include oil spill prevention and response agencies in Alaska, British Columbia, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, which is represented by the state Department of Ecology (Ecology).

Fletcher will be recognized for her 30-year leadership role in helping prevent oil spills and improve emergency response in Puget Sound.

In 1983, she led the Puget Sound Water Quality Authority, a predecessor of the Puget Sound Partnership. Fletcher founded the non-profit People For Puget Sound in 1991. The latter group has 25 staff members based in Seattle and Olympia with about 10,000 member households.

Through the years, Fletcher participated in multiple stakeholder groups focused on oil spill prevention, preparedness and response in Puget Sound. Under her leadership, People For Puget Sound was instrumental in getting the private maritime industry to station a permanent, year-round emergency response vessel at Neah Bay.

Before funding for the Neah Bay response tug shifted to the private sector in 2010, Fletcher was a driving force for obtaining public funding to station an emergency response vessel at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, starting in 1999.

She retired from People For Puget Sound in June 2011.

“Kathy has left an amazing legacy in protecting Puget Sound from oil spills,” said Ecology Spills Program Manager Dale Jensen. “Since 1999, a Neah Bay response tug has assisted 46 vessels that were either completely disabled or had reduced maneuvering ability and potentially helped prevent thousands of gallons of oil from being spilled to our waters.”

Olsson has worked tirelessly during his tenure at Washington Sea Grant to successfully educate harbormasters, marina operators and boat owners about how to prevent small oil spills to Washington waters. He has provided hundreds of intensive vessel safety workshops for commercial fishermen and recreational boaters and developed an interactive on-line oil spill prevention, preparedness and response training course.

Olsson also helped form the Pacific Oil Spill Prevention Education Team that evolved from the premise that small oil spills can add up, can cause significant environmental and economic harm, and are a regional problem. The team includes representatives from state and federal agencies, industry associations, and nonprofit groups from Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, and other parts of the U.S.

Jensen said, “Eric is a state, regional and nationwide leader for oil spill prevention education, and his great work is visible across Washington. I think of Eric every time I see a ‘Spills Aren’t Slick’ sign at a marina, state park or public boat launch, reminding people to immediately notify authorities if they spill oil.”

Additional award recipients are:

  • Capt. Daniel LeBlanc, U.S. Coast Guard, Sector Columbia River.
  • Rusty Nall, Executive Vice President, American Marine Corp. and PENCO.
  • Southeast Alaska Petroleum Resource Organization (SEAPRO).
  • U.S. Coast Guard SS Montebello Project Team.

Updated Oil Spill Preparedness Response Plan Ready–Comment period now open.

Jerry Joyce of Seattle Audubon writes, “For those interested in oil spill response in WA state, the draft of the updated response plan for the region—the Northwest Area Contingency Plan—is now available for download and open for comment through the month of August.” Download the plan http://www.rrt10nwac.com/NWACP/ ; comment on the plan http://www.rrt10nwac.com/Comment/

Audio story on Tanker Traffic Scenarios re:oil spill preparedness

Ashley Ahearn at KUOW/EarthFix reports on the Seattle Army Corps of Engineers sitting on a study commissioned to look at different tanker traffic scenarios and map the riskiest transit areas “Army Corps Slow To Release Report Assessing Oil Tanker Riskhttp://earthfix.kuow.org/water/article/army-corps-of-engineers-slow-to-release-report-det/  Says Fred Felleman of Friends of the Earth, “It’s like a video game. You can play any number of scenarios. It’s the best tool available and we’ve been deprived of being able to look at that especially in light of these new threats coming to our waterways.”

Senator Ranker splits his oil spill cleanup bill in two

A dramatic change to the oil spill prevention bill in our state legislature right now. Call to ask for a supporting vote on this!

3/1/11 Kitsap Sun —By John Stang

OLYMPIA — Oil-spill response legislation at the statehouse has split into two bills tackling separate issues.

On Monday, the House passed a bill to improve Washington’s ability to deal with a monster-sized oil spill.

That House bill was almost a carbon copy of a companion bill in the Senate.

But on Tuesday, the Senate voted 46-3 in favor of a radically changed version of that companion bill.

The Senate bill make the company responsible for an oil spill legally liable for damages to people, property, nature and the economy resulting from the cleanup efforts.

More at

Fishing boat sinks in Marine Sanctuary…oil sheen reported

DATE: February 4, 2011 8:32:10 PM PST
News Release: Update – Coast Guard, DOE continue to monitor area where the Vicious Fisher sank
SEATTLE – The Coast Guard and Washington Dept. of Ecology(DOE) continue to respond to pollution concerns after the 80-foot fishing vessel, Vicious Fisher, sank in about 360 feet of water approximately 13 miles west of La Push, Wash., Thursday.

The Coast Guard safely removed all five crewmembers from the vessel by approximately 6 p.m., Thursday after final efforts to dewater the vessel failed. No injuries have been reported.

The steel hulled Vicious Fisher homeported in Bellingham, Wash., sank with approximately 3,800 gallons of diesel fuel onboard.

Coast Guard and DOE officials conducted an on-scene assessment Friday morning and determined salvage of the vessel was not possible due to the depth of water it sank in.

Friday, Coast Guard helicopter crews conducted two over flights of the area where the vessel sank and discovered a two-mile, light sheen and the life raft belonging to the Vicious Fisher in the vicinity of the area the vessel sank. The sheen is not recoverable.

The location where the Vicious Fisher went down is located in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and is near the Quileute Indian Tribe reservation.

Coast Guard and DOE will continue to monitor the area. A third helicopter over flight is scheduled for Saturday.

Vic study: Oil spill would hit taxpayers hard

1/14 Vancouver Sun
Environmental Law Centre says compensation on civil liability for  damage tops out at $1.3B
By Scott Simpson, Vancouver Sun
Oil-spill compensation from industry is just a drop in the  bucket compared to what would be needed to recover from a  catastrophic spill off B.C.’s coast, according to a new report.
Spill compensation, including oil-tanker insurance and an  international convention on civil liability for oil-pollution  damage, tops out at $1.3 billion, according to a study by the  University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre released Thursday  by Living Oceans Society.
That’s roughly one-third of the cleanup and compensation costs of  the 1989 Alaskan Exxon Valdez spill, and the Exxon spill doesn’t  even rank in the top 30 largest global spills.
More at

Oil spill bill: ‘Be prepared for catastrophic event’

1/12/11 SeattlePI.Com Joel Connelly
       Spurred by the report of a national commission on the BP Gulf oil spill, two Washington lawmakers would require oil companies to stockpile spill cleanup equipment ready to operate in the waves and strong currents of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
       "We currently have pretty good response capability up to a middle level spill:  At the bigger level we are not well prepared.  I don’t want us to be as unprepared as they (BP) were," said Rep. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge.
        Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila, added: "Even if we are happy with the safety record, we need to be prepared for a catastrophic event."
More at

No, Double Hull Tankers Do Not Ensure ‘Total Safety’

While this is an old story from last June, it’s only now come to our attention, and needs being shared.

From our friends north of the border on the Tyee Opinion. The whitewash from the Canadian government  and the oil industry on tanker safety in the Straits.

While 65 oil tankers traversed Burrard Inlet last year,  it’s not clear how many single hull vessels currently traverse Burrard Inlet. Is BC providing escort tugs for all these tankers?

While tankers in the US need escort tugs, freighters have never needed them. And what’s missing in this analysis is that in 2012 escort tugs come off US  tankers (not freighters) in the US, as the Magnuson act only protected us from single hull tankers. The fact that an incident hasn’t yet happened is cold comfort given the disasters in Alaska in 79, the huge number of tanker and freighter sinkings since 79, and even San Francisco’s calamity just last winter. Canada’s lackluster investigation and lack of transparency on the sinking of a ferry a year or so ago shows that the government cannot be trusted.

The issue of Canada protection for the Straits is huge. Canada has never taken adequate protection of the Straits, relying on the US to protect the whole waterway. This whole ‘special meeting’ seems like a whitewash, as just last November the Canadian government and Coast Guard was caught unawares as a freighter that was anchored at Mayne Inlet in Plumper Sound drug anchor and narrowly avoided a disaster. Captain Brown’s statement in the following article  is total PR BS, frankly, and the kind of whitewash that we have seen over the years from countless other officials of industry and the government of many countries just prior to major spills.

Last winter, as I and a few other small news organizations watched the Plumper Sound event unfold, Canadian officials were in the dark, unaware, and had to be contacted by US officials who were alerted to the issue by citizens. There were 1.2 million gallons of fuel on this freighter!  It was over a day before the Canadians had a clue, and it was not reported on any major news outlet in Canada for at least 72 hours! So excuse me if I’m underwhelmed by the government official and B.C. Chamber Stewart pronouncements….If a major disaster occurs, it will affect us as well as Canada.

Let’s be clear, a major tanker or freighter spill in the Straits or the Straits of Georgia can undo hundreds of billions of dollars of environmental work, and decades of protection efforts on our marine habitat. We cannot let PR doublespeak like this go unchallenged. There is an agenda here of trying to expand the tanker traffic for the Alberta Tar Sands pipeline for sales to China. This is all about money, not environmental safety.

more on that old story here:

Here is the current crop of governmental bs as appropriately covered by the Tyee Opinion


9/27 The Tyee Opinion
Contrary to industry reassurances, Vancouver faces increasing risks of oil spill.
By Mitch Anderson
Is it safe? That was the question posed last July when Mayor Gregor Robertson convened a special meeting of Vancouver city council to discuss increased oil tanker traffic through the treacherous waters of Burrard Inlet.
Vancouver has quietly become <http://thetyee.ca/News/2010/06/03/VancouverOilTankers>  a major oil port, as the capacity of the Kinder Morgan pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby has recently been scaled up to 300,000 barrels per day. Every week several oil tankers squeeze through Second Narrows at the highest tides with less than two metres of water under the keel. These shipments have doubled over the last two years.
At the July meeting, Captain Stephen Brown of the B.C. Chamber of Shipping assured the city that these transits were happening in "total safety" and that "We have yet to have a pollution incident from a double hull tanker."
More at

BP’s record shows Northwest waters need greater protection

Fred Felleman has been the leading advocate of oil spill protection, along with People For Puget Sound, for the last 10 years.  When he talks about this subject, it’s worth paying attention.

8/22 Crosscut
BP’s record shows Northwest waters need greater protection
By Fred Felleman

BP has much more of a record and presence in the Northwest than many realize. How and where could BP’s troubled oil drilling practices affect Washington citizens, their environment, Puget Sound, and the Salish Sea?

More at

Obama Launching ‘Ocean Initiative’ – Too little too late?

The LA Times has a story on the new Ocean Initiative of the Obama Administration. While the task force has been out thinking this new way of protecting the oceans over the last year, the administration has gone from supporting oil drilling and further drilling off the coasts to dealing with the worse oil spills near US shores in history. An entire swath of environmentally sensitive water and shores, including approx. 40% of our shrimp harvest nationally has been destroyed, along with thousands, if not tens of thousands of jobs. Now we get a series of recommendations that ” would not create new regulations or immediately alter drilling plans or fisheries management.”  This will ultimately end up with regs created that will affect us here on the Straits and Hood Canal.

This new set of regs would establish a kind of ocean zoning. My immediate reaction is, ‘so how exactly would that have helped prevent the disaster that is unfolding in front of our eyes in the Gulf?” What really changes? Zoning creates places where oil can be drilled, the well blows, and all the other locations still get trashed. I will await more info on how this is to be implemented.  The notion that somehow we are going to set aside “environmental zones” in the ocean seems ridiculous on its’ face. The ocean doesn’t have “zones”. What spills  in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas when it comes to the ocean.  Does this mean we are going to let certain zones get trashed and somehow keep it all intact? Ridiculous on it’s face.

But this is how the sausage gets made, in politics. We’ll now have years of meetings to discuss the changes, which have been discussed for years already. We then will  have to adopt to this new rules process and see if any further gains in environmental protection can be gotten from them. And in the meantime, no one is seriously being asked to change their lifestyles to support less use of oil. We are subsidizing all sorts of silly activities, but really getting things to change is really hard. And of course the oil industry objects to it saying it’s unworkable. It’s time to ask them to stand down, as they have caused enough destruction in the last six months to last many lifetimes. Just ask the shrimpers in the Gulf.

Read the story and think for yourself…


Quote of the week:

“The oil and natural gas industry’s presence in the Gulf [of Mexico] has successfully coexisted with other ocean uses like tourism, fishing, the U.S. military and shipping for many years, demonstrating that the current system of governance works well.” – American Petroleum Institute

As did Chernobyl..