It was announced today through a released statement that Seattle's Manson Construction Co. has been fined $10,000 by the Washington State Department of Ecology for accidentally spilling 177 gallons of diesel fuel from a 195-foot barge into the Port of Tacoma's Blair Waterway back in October, 2010. The fine was handed down because it's illegal to spill oil or fuel into state waters, and also because the Department of Ecology deemed the spill negligent.
According to the statement, the Department of Ecology is also billing Mason Construction Co. $2,800 to pay for costs associated with the cleanup, as state law requires those who spill fuel into state waters to foot the bill for the response.
That brings the total Manson Construction owes to a sizeable $12,800, or a little over the cost of 3,100 gallons of industrial diesel fuel at current prices.
The Department of Ecology describes the spill as such:
The spill occurred on the morning of Oct. 29, 2010, when the company was transferring fuel from the tug Nancy M to the fuel tank of the barge Andrew. The company failed to monitor the transfer and the tank level of the Andrew, and consequently diesel fuel overflowed from the Andrew's fuel tank vent.
The vessels were moored just offshore of the Washington United Terminal at the time of the spill. The barge was being used for a clamshell dredging operation. Dredging resumed during the fuel transfer, leading to a lack of oversight for the fuel transfer.
The Department of Ecology statement notes that "quick action by the barge and tug crew" allowed 168 of the 177 gallons spilled to be recovered from the water, but Southwest Regional Office Spill Response Unit Supervisor Jim Sachet also points out that, "anytime that any amount of fuel is spilled into a waterway it causes damage."
Eric Haug, President of Manson Construction Company, is also quoted in the prepared statement, saying, "Manson Construction takes environmental quality very seriously and deeply regrets this incident taking place. Manson has taken actions to prevent such accidents in the future."
Manson still has the option of appealing the penalty.
It's worth nothing that any fine collected goes toward what the Department of Ecology release classifies as, "environmental restoration and enhancement projects."