February Bangor spill pumped 800 gallons of oil into Hood Canal

About 800 gallons of oil was discharged into Hood Canal after equipment malfunction at Naval Base Kitsap - Bangor, Feb. 12.  - Contributed
About 800 gallons of oil was discharged into Hood Canal after equipment malfunction at Naval Base Kitsap - Bangor, Feb. 12.
— image credit: Contributed

BANGOR — An Ecology investigation into an oil spill at Naval Base Kitsap — Bangor determined that 805 gallons of oil spilled into Hood Canal Feb. 10.

The state Department of Ecology estimates the U.S. Navy recovered 385 gallons of oil from the water within 24 hours of the spill, according to information from Ecology spokesman Larry Altose. The Navy continued to clean up oil for four days, until it could no longer be recovered.

The Department of Ecology does not have information as to how much oil was recovered after the first 24 hours, "but we can at least say that more than 385 gallons was recovered," according to Altose.

The Navy cannot be fined. However, the Department of Ecology expects a Natural Resource Damage Assessment, or NRDA, to be conducted, which could still be a few months out, according to Altose. An assessment would evaluate the environmental impact caused by the amount of oil spilled and the amount of time it was in the environment. Then a financial conversion is done, and money is collected to fund restoration projects. In the past, the Navy has done in-house projects of equivalent value to satisfy the assessment, according to Altose.

An NRDA is done for oil spills of at least 25 gallons.

Ecology estimates a total of 1,400 gallons of oil and bilge water was discharged in the seven minutes that a tank malfunctioned while a vessel was pumping out its bilge or ballast tank. The outflow of the tank's contents was 200 gallons per minute.

"There was a significant amount of oil in the tank from many previous uses," according to the Department of Ecology.

The Navy estimated the oil substance to be about two-thirds diesel and one-third lubricating oil.

The spill resulted in a multi-agency response, and shellfish harvesting closures on Hood Canal. According to the Department of Ecology, a sheen on the water was visible over a nine-mile stretch.

The Navy deployed a boom and other spill response materials to confine the contents of the tank. What was seen up to the Hood Canal Bridge was what was discharged before the boom were in place, and some water that made it past the boom.

Recovery of oil continued until Feb. 16, when no more oil could be removed from the water or cleaned off structures. According to information from the Navy, when "oil spreads too thinly on the water surface it can be seen, but not recovered.” The oil needs to be several molecules thick for the oil to be absorbed by pads and skimmers, the Navy reported.

When Ecology closed the case, the Navy was evaluating its pumping system to determine future spill prevention.



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