Washington fines Manson Construction for 2010 fuel spill

OLYMPIA – Seattle-based Manson Construction Co. has been fined $10,000 by the Washington State Department of Ecology for spilling some 177 gallons of diesel fuel from a 195-foot barge into the Port of Tacoma’s Blair Waterway, according to a department press release.

The spill occurred on the morning of Oct. 29, 2010, when Manson 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 Nancy M is a 85’, 3,000-hp twin-screw tug first built as the Shelly Foss in 1970 by Albina Machine and Engine Works for Foss Launch and tug.

The vessels were moored just offshore of the Washington United Terminal at the time of the spill, according to the Dept. of Ecology. 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.

Manson Construction Company, Ecology and the U.S. Coast Guard responded to the incident.

The penalty was levied because it is illegal to spill oil or fuel into the waters of the state and because the Dept. of Ecology determined the spill was a negligent oil spill. The Blair Waterway is a heavily industrialized waterway, parts of which are included in the Commencement Bay Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site.

Southwest Regional Office Spill Response Unit Supervisor Jim Sachet said in a statement, “People are working hard to clean up contamination from past activities at this Superfund site. It’s important not to contaminate the waterway again.”

Ecology also is billing the company $2,800 to recover the state’s costs for conducting the spill cleanup. State law requires entities that spill fuel to reimburse the state for spill response.

Sachet said in the release: “Quick action by the barge and tug crew resulted in 168 gallons recovered from the water out of 177 spilled to water. However, anytime that any amount of fuel is spilled into a waterway it causes damage.”

Eric Haug, president of Manson Construction Company said in the release: “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 Construction Company may appeal the penalty to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board within 30 days.

Ecology does not benefit from penalty payments. The final penalty amount owed and collected is deposited in special accounts that pay for environmental restoration and enhancement projects. 

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