US Coast Guard completes cleanup of troubled processor vessel
The Coast Guard said it has finished removing fuel, oil, and hazardous materials from the fishing vessel Pacific Producer, now tied up in the Thea Foss Waterway in Tacoma, Washington, U.S.A., after an anhydrous ammonia release in mid-August.
The Coast Guard, Washington Department of Ecology, and Tacoma Fire Department initially responded to a report of the ammonia release on 13 August.
“The vessel was determined to present a significant threat to the environment and the federal on-scene Coordinator took action to protect public health and the environment,” according to Coast Guard summary of the cleanup response.
The Coast Guard used the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (Superfund), as well as the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, to pay for the response efforts by contractors and crews from Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound.
Hazardous materials crews secured the anhydrous ammonia release and removed 3,500 pounds of ammonia from the vessel. Contractors also removed all miscellaneous hazmat from the vessel, including paint, flammable liquids, corrosives, and pressurized gas cylinders.
With concerns over water intrusion into the vessel, 20,000 gallons of oily bilge water, 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel, as well as 14,000 gallons of miscellaneous oil and oily waste were removed and properly disposed of.
“This was a complex operation that required a swift and coordinated response to ensure the protection of the public and the environment,” said Capt. Mark McDonnell, the Coast Guard federal on-scene coordinator. “I would like to thank our excellent partners at the Washington Department of Ecology and Department of Natural Resources, EPA, City of Tacoma, and the Puyallup Tribe for their incredible support which resulted in this successful operation.”
“The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) assumed emergency custody of the Pacific Producer and hired a contractor to stabilize the vessel and eliminate water intrusion,” the Coast Guard said. “DNR and Coast Guard crews from Sector Puget Sound will remain in communication over any proposed plan of action for disposition of the vessel.”
The 169-foot, 472-ton processor built in 1946 was subjected a joint investigation opened in July 2022 by the U.S. Department of Labor and Coast Guard. That resulted in the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration seeking nearly USD 209,000 (EUR 195,000) in fines from vessel operator East West Seafoods LLC and owner Christos Tsabouris in early 2023. The agency cited the vessel for two repeat serious, 17 serious violations, and one other than serious violation.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard