2 boats sink in Hylebos Waterway near Tacoma

Two vessels moored at Mason Marina on the Hylebos Waterway near Tacoma sank early Friday morning, according to officials with...

Two vessels moored at Mason Marina on the Hylebos Waterway near Tacoma sank early Friday morning, according to officials with the Tacoma Fire Department, U.S. Coast Guard and Washington State Department of Ecology.

The abandoned Helena Star and Golden West were chained together when they sank Friday morning. An Oil containment boom has been placed around both vessels to prevent possible pollution from any residual fuel that may remain inside. Most of the fuel was removed from the vessels last March, limiting the potential for pollution to the waterway from these vessels, according to Department of Ecology officials.

This post will be updated as more information becomes available.

****UPDATE Fri., Jan. 25 @ 3:18 P.M. – The Washington State Department of Ecology reports the following:

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) and the U.S. Coast Guard are working with Ballard Diving and Salvage to contain a small amount of oil released to the Hylebos Waterway after two vessels moored at Mason Marine near Tacoma began sinking early Friday.

The derelict vessels Helena Star and Golden West were tied together when the Helena Star began sinking and pulling the other vessel down with it. The Tacoma Fire Department placed oil containment boom around both vessels to prevent possible pollution from any residual fuel remaining inside the vessels. In March 2012, about 20,000 gallons of oil and oily water as well as other hazardous substances were removed from the vessels, limiting the potential for pollution to the waterway.

Ballard Diving and Salvage, an environmental cleanup contractor, is placing secondary boom around the vessels and working to clean up some pockets of diesel fuel in the waterway. Most of the cleanup is expected to be completed today, with continued monitoring by Ecology and the Coast Guard over the next couple of days. There are no plans to untie the vessels or raise them at this time.

The vessels have been moored at the marina for about two years. The suspected owner of the vessels, Mason Marine, filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and was not at the scene. According to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the two vessels are among an estimated 230 known derelict or abandoned vessels in Washington state.

The state is also investigating a report of four or five birds that may have gotten into oil. More information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Washington’s natural resources are always put at risk whenever oil is spilled or hazardous materials are released to the environment. All oil spills matter, regardless of size. The damage starts as soon as oil hits the water. Oil products are poisonous to the environment and they add to the toxic load to our water bodies. Spills also are difficult and costly to clean up. That’s why Ecology works to prevent spills from occurring in the first place.

****UPDATE Mon., Jan. 28 @ 3:53 P.M. – The United States Coast Guard reports the following:

The Coast Guard, Department of Ecology, and Ballard Diving and Salvage continue to monitor the Helena Star, which sank while moored at Mason Marine near Tacoma, Wash., in the Hylebos Waterway, Friday. The Golden West, which was tied to the Helena Star, was dragged over to an extreme angle but has not sunk.

The Helena Star and Golden West shifted with the tide Monday, causing the Helena Star to leak approximately 20 gallons of lube oil within the contained area surrounding the vessels.

The Coast Guard, along with the other responding agencies, worked through the weekend to ensure any contaminates leaking from the two derelict vessels were contained and removed, and not released into the Hylebos Waterway.

During the weekend’s response efforts, approximately 1,500 gallons of contaminated water was vacuumed out and the absorbing oil pads were changed.

According to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, a few birds were located in the sheen during an initial reconnaissance flight on Friday. Focus Wildlife International, an oiled wildlife response contractor, was hired to conduct wildlife surveys throughout the spill area. Several hundred birds and many seals were observed during surveys conducted on Friday and Saturday within the vicinity of the spill, but none of the animals observed were visibly oiled or showed behavioral signs of oiling.

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) and the U.S. Coast Guard are working with Ballard Diving and Salvage to contain a small amount of oil released to the Hylebos Waterway after two vessels moored at Mason Marine near Tacoma began sinking early Friday. (PHOTO COURTESY WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY)
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