Oil, PCBs leaking from derelict barge on Columbia River

The following is the text of two press releases issued by the U.S. Coast Guard:
(PORTLAND, Ore.) — Federal, state and local agencies, as well as industry, continue to work closely together to recover oil and monitor a 431-foot derelict vessel, Davy Crockett, near Camas, Wash., on the Columbia River, Sunday.
A Unified Command, consisting of Coast Guard, Washington Dept. of Ecology, Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality, Dept. of Interior, Coast Guard Auxiliary and other agencies, was established Thursday after Ecology received reports of a light, non-recoverable sheen. Responders traced it back to mile marker 115 on the Columbia River, the site of the Davy Crockett.
Sunday’s operations included securing two lines to help hold the stern section of the vessel to the bow and the start of ballasting operations in an effort to stabilize the vessel. Diving operations are on-going and dependent on safety and stability. Cleanup and containment efforts continue on and around the barge.
A 500-yard safety no wake zone is still in effect around the Davy Crockett to ensure the safety of the on-scene workers and to prevent further damage to the vessel. Boaters are asked to use caution when transiting the area.
“As the federal on-scene coordinator, I can attest to the dedication of the multi-agency responders,†said Capt. Douglas E. Kaup, commanding officer of Sector Columbia River. “Our primary goals are to safely remove the oil from this barge and prevent further contamination of the Columbia River.â€
The following information is current as of 3 p.m. Sunday:
• 52 members from federal, state and local agencies, as well as industry, are responding
• Approximately 1,200 gallons of oil recovered
• Approximately 18,000 feet of sorbent boom deployed around the vessel
• Approximately 300-feet of sorbent boom deployed inside the vessel
• Approximately 2,800-feet of hard boom deployed around the vessel
• One skimmer
• Seven work and crew vessels
• Two spud barges on-scene to stabilize the stern of the Davy Crocket
• Diving operations are on-going and dependent on the stability of the vessel
A separate press release:
(PORTLAND, Ore.) — Follow up tests of oil samples taken from a 431-foot derelict vessel, Davy Crockett, have detected low levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
Washington State Dept. of Ecology received reports Thursday of a light, non-recoverable sheen at mile marker 115 on the Columbia River, the site of the vessel. Oil samples taken from the engine room hold of the vessel detected approximately 3.44 parts per million (ppm) of PCBs. Coast Guard, Ecology, Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality and other agencies responded and are working to cleanup oil and monitor the vessel. Federal regulations for PCBs in oil require specialized handling and disposal for levels at 50 ppm or greater.
Environmental and public health agencies’ regulations vary as to what constitutes acceptable concentrations of PCBs. Federal regulations require that water containing PCBs must be below 0.003 ppm to be discharged to navigable waters. One part per million is roughly the equivalent of one teaspoon per 1,300 gallons.
“The PCB-containing oil released from the barge is not an immediate public health risk,†said David McBride, a toxicologist with the Washington State Dept. of Health (DOH). “Existing advisories warn people to not eat any freshwater shellfish in the lower Columbia River, due to pre-existing contamination from historic releases of PCB.â€
“We remind people to avoid direct contact with any oily sheen they may encounter in the water,†said Michael Heumann, an epidemiologist with the Public Health Division at the Oregon Health Authority in Portland.
“Any release of PCBs to the Columbia River is a concern, because it adds to existing PCB contamination in the river,†said Jim Sachet, state on-scene coordinator for the Washington Dept. of Ecology and a member of the unified command team managing the response. “Our main priorities are the safety of the responders and to prevent additional releases of oil.â€
A primary and secondary containment area has been established around the vessel, consisting of approximately 18,000 feet of sorbent boom and 2,800 feet of hard boom.
Incident managers have consulted with federal and state environmental agencies, state and county public health agencies and other interested parties regarding the potential effects of the PCBs added to the river on public health and the environment.
For more information on PCBs and their health effects, see http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/tsd/pcbs/index.htm; or contact David McBride at (360) 236-3176, or Michael Heumann at (503) 880-2226.
For information on the DOH fish advisory go to http://www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/oehas/fish/. For more information, contact the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) or call (877) 485-7316.
By Professional Mariner Staff