Oil Leaks from USGS Boat
Employees with the U.S. Geological Survey inadvertently spilled two quarts of oil into the Columbia River while emptying bilge water at the Hamilton Island boat ramp a mile downstream from Bonneville Dam on the Washington shore, according to a report to state regulators.
The spill was noticed by a U.S. Army Corps of Engineer employee who tracked an oil sheen to the trailered boat Wednesday afternoon.
Sandy Howard, spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Ecology, said the USGS employees used pads to clean up some of the oil.
She said the state planned no further action.
Officials said USGS workers were using the 18-foot-long boat as part of a radio telemetry study tracking salmon.
A spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, which was criticized for its handling of a series of oil spills from Columbia River dams over the past few months, said the environmental-compliance officer at Bonneville Dam tracked the spill to its source.
Howard said researchers apparently didn't realize oil was present in the bilge water before pulling the drain plug.
"Had they known there was oil in the bilge, they never would have done that," Howard said. "It was a relatively small event, and they took action to clean it up."
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