Another Dalco Passage in the making as State & Federal Agencies Dawdle

Back in the early part of the last decade, a tug passing in the middle of the night saw an oil spill south of Vashon Island. After alerting the Coast Guard and the State, the tug captain left, expecting something would be done. 12 hours later State and CG people showed up, leading to an outrageous oil spill that seemed compounded by lack of action. The Governor called for an investigation and the whole incident led to the forming of the Puget Sound Partnership.

Fast forward to today. The Deep Sea, a 140-foot fishing vessel, that the State Derelict Vessel Program knew about but did nothing of any consequence, caught fire and sank almost three weeks ago. It’s been leaking oil ever since, forcing the closure of multimillion dollar local shellfish beds, the kinds of beds that the Puget Sound Partnership and the Governor are claiming they want to protect. The boat’s set to be removed from Penn Cove on Sunday. What’s taken so long? Is the Governor going to call for some changes that can stop this kind of nonsense once and for all? Our environmental activist organizations, such as People For Puget Sound, don’t even have a mention of it on their web site as of today (Friday, June 1).

Again, everyone seems asleep at the wheel, and unable to get anything of any consequence done to avoid this kind of fiasco in the first place.

I call on the Governor to get a sense of urgency about this situation, make changes to the Derelict Vessel Program, and making legal changes to bring this kind of negligence by the State to an end. When your car breaks down on the side of the road, it is routinely towed, usually within 24 hours, though it may not be a hazard to anyone. Why can’t a derelict vessel be towed in less than a week?

Sunken Vessel Off Whidbey Island to be Removed Sunday

UPDATE: Penn Cove derelict vessel burns and sinks

No matter the cost, the 128-foot crab boat that caught fire and then sank in Penn Cove this weekend will be raised and removed, according to officials with the state Department of Natural Resources.

Toni Droscher, spokeswoman for the agency, confirmed that the huge steel fishing vessel is not too big to pluck from the bottom, but it will be expensive and it’s a cost that will initially be borne by taxpayers.

“We will get that boat out of there,” Droscher said. “We have to protect the resource.”

The Deep Sea, which has been illegally anchored in Penn Cove for months, caught fire late Saturday evening. The blaze raged unchecked for about two hours before fireboats from Camano Island Fire and Rescue and the U.S Coast Guard arrived and began hitting the vessel with water.

Flames on deck had largely been extinguished by 2:30 a.m. Sunday but fires continued to burn below. Fire fighting efforts had to be temporarily suspended due to fear of the boat sinking but resumed again at daylight.

At about 6 p.m., about 19 hours after it first caught fire, the vessel finally succumbed and sank in about 60 feet of water just outside Penn Cove Shellfish’s mussel rafts.

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