Pollution Threat: Site
by Cody Mann
Owners evicted, nearly 3,000 gallons of oily water removed from barge
The Coast Guard oversaw the removal of nearly 3,000 gallons of oily water from the bilges of a 1940s-era crane barge this past weekend near Goble. Two men leasing the site from the Oregon Department of State Lands for business purposes were evicted and given until the end of May to remove their property.
A statement from Coast Guard said the removal of oily water from the Amazon, a 170-foot crane barge, was a preemptive measure taken to prevent possible environmental damage to the Columbia River. A Captain of the Port Order was issued to the vessel in March of 2017. There are also safety concerns regarding exposed asbestos on board.
The site has grown to be a concern for the Coast Guard and multiple agencies from the State of Oregon because of the environmental impact vessels and other materials at the site have or could have to the sensitive Columbia River ecosystem.
Representatives from the Coast Guard Pacific Strike Team, Coast Guard Marine Environmental Detachment Portland, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Oregon National Response Corporation conducted a site assessment and hazard categorization at the submerged land lease site during May 9-10.
Personnel from the Coast Guard’s Columbia River Incident Management Division opened the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to remove the oily water upon a recommendation from the Coast Guard Pacific Strike Team.
National Response Coordination Environmental Services contractors pumped out 1,800 gallons of the oily-water mixture this past Friday, and another 1,100 gallons on Saturday, from bilges, ballast tanks, fuel tanks, aft and forward spaces, and above and below deck plates.
The site is owned by the Oregon Department of State Lands and leased since 2012 by a private party. The assessment pertained to the planned removal of oil and hazardous materials at the site associated with derelict vessels. The Coast Guard and DEQ will oversee the removal of hazardous materials from vessels remaining at the Goble site beginning June 1.
“The initial purpose of our site visit was to assess the need for future operations, however, it was quickly determined the Amazon posed a substantial threat of an oil discharge and required immediate action,” Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Madjeska, chief, Incident Management Division Sector Columbia River, said. “The vessel is in very poor material condition, and is slowly taking on water through open hatches.”
The barge Amazon is one of 26 vessels currently being assessed and monitored during the eviction of Clay Jonak and Roger Ison, who lease the site from the Oregon Department of State Lands. The agency informed the two men of an impending lease termination on March 20, 2017. They have until May 30 to remove their property from the site. The Coast Guard will oversee the cleanup of any remaining oil or hazardous material left on site after May 30.
Jonak and Ison were fined $110,677 by DEQ in June of 2016 for polluting the Columbia River. The fine stemmed from asbestos, solid waste and water quality violations occurring at the site which is near river mile 75 on the Columbia River, approximately a half-mile upstream and to the southeast of Goble.
DEQ said it cited Jonak and Ison, owners and operators of the leasehold, for violations of Oregon laws that prohibit the accumulation of solid waste, the open accumulation of asbestos-containing material and the release of petroleum-based fuel into the Columbia River.
The site included the River Queen, a derelict riverboat that once served as a restaurant in Portland. In addition to assessing the civil penalty, DEQ ordered Jonak and Ison to correct the violations. DEQ said Jonak and Ison had not complied with those requests. A penalty for solid waste violations was issued because it is against the law to dispose of solid wastes anywhere except at a permitted disposal facility.
The asbestos violations resulted from the asbestos-containing materials in the vessels at the site that have the potential to expose workers, tenants and the public to asbestos fibers. Asbestos is a hazardous air contaminant proven to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. DEQ requires asbestos to be abated and appropriately disposed of by a licensed asbestos abatement contractor.
DEQ also issued a penalty resulting from the release of petroleum diesel fuel from a vessel that sank into the Columbia River.
$56,677 of the civil penalty represents the economic benefit DEQ said Jonak and Ison gained by failing to properly dispose of identified asbestos-containing material. Jonak and Ison were given until June 14 to appeal the penalty.
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