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Organizations Working to Clean Up Oil
Spill in Columbia River Estuary Near Astoria

by Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin, January 26, 2018

Cleanup of an oil spill and removing the spill's source in the Columbia River estuary near Astoria will continue for a couple more weeks, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

An oil sheen appeared near the Port of Astoria's West End Mooring Basin last Thursday, mobilizing the Port, the Coast Guard and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. The organizations are working to contain the oil spill to a small area in and upstream of the mooring basin, as well as to clear the contamination from boats before they head out into the river.

Early reports, before containment, saw an oil sheen as far downriver as Hammond, about five miles closer to the Pacific Ocean, as well as in some areas upstream of the spill. No environmental or wildlife impact has been reported in any of these areas, according to the Coast Guard.

It has tentatively identified the source of the oil as a 20-foot long oil tank buried near piers that once held the Union Fishermen Cooperative Packing cannery and is now the upscale Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa. The oil tank had not been used for years. According to the Coast Guard the tank could hold as much as 4,200 gallons of oil, but it is unsure how much is in the tank or how much oil has leaked.

However, it's still unclear whether the tank is the source of the oil, though the sheen is concentrated near the tank, said Alissa Flockerzi, a spokeswoman for the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard Sector Columbia River's Incident Management Division team from Astoria is overseeing vessel decontamination activities and facilitating agency assessments of the local environment, the Coast Guard said in a news release.

It does not know the extent of the leak so far, but it and its contractor, Global Diving and Salvage, have laid out containment booms in the area to help with the containment of surface oil. The decontamination process will keep oil within the contamination area to enable vessels to safely exit the marina without further impacting the Columbia River.

The Coast Guard initially received its first call about an oil sheen at 2 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 18, reporting a small sheen near the hotel. Friday morning, a Port of Astoria security officer reported significant sheening at Piers 1 and 2 and then a third call from a private source reported sheening in Hammond, the Coast Guard said. The Hammond cleanup was completed Saturday.

Although the leak was first reported Thursday, hazardous conditions Thursday night prevented dive operations, which were postponed until Friday morning. The divers did not discover the assumed source of the leak until Saturday.

The IMD team is in contact with NOAA Fisheries, Oregon DEQ, the Port of Astoria and Washington Department of Ecology.

Another oil spill, this time into the Willamette River in Portland, was reported Monday night. Oil leaked from a tank at the Union Pacific Railroad's Albina Yard in North Portland. The cleanup is overseen by the Coast Guard, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services and Oregon DEQ. The spill is contained with a boom and cleanup is ongoing.

Related Pages:
Cleaning Up Columbia River Oil Spill Could Take Weeks by Staff, Greenwire, 1/23/18
Astoria Oil Spill Cleanup Could Take Weeks by Anna Marum, The Oregonian, 1/22/18

Organizations Working to Clean Up Oil Spill in Columbia River Estuary Near Astoria
Columbia Basin Bulletin, January 26, 2018

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