Sunken fishing ship recovery to run over $1 millionon May 27, 2012 @ 7:23 am (Updated: 10:55 pm - 5/27/12 )
Starting on May 23rd, diving teams surveyed the wreck of the ship. The "Deep Sea," which caught fire two weeks ago, sank on May 13th in 60 feet of water and started to leak oil into shellfish fields.
"We know that at one point early in the spill there was oil sheen right in among the mussel rafts, so there was definitely an effect there. We haven't gotten any reports of any oiled fish or birds or mammals and that's good news, but we're watching this all the time," says Curt Hart, of the Department of Ecology.
During the clean-up, divers exploring the wreck released more oil in the process of trying to raise the vessel. However, they have been able to recover almost 5,000 gallons of oil from fuel tanks and from the water's surface since recovery efforts started.
Contractors for the Department of Ecology put up an oil boom to contain oil that was already on the water. Later on, workers also put a floating boom up in two lines to protect shellfish nearby.
"Right now we're seeing a light coating of oil on the water and that's why we're really working so hard to get this thing out of the environment because we don't want to see more fuel leaking," says Hart.
Workers consider the recovery effort a success so far since no oiled fish, birds, or mammals have been found. According to a Department of Ecology press release, the oil on the water had dissipated almost completely by May 17th.
The next step in the clean-up is to recover the boat. The state has contracted with Global Diving and Salvage and General Construction Company to coordinate these efforts.
However, the Department of Ecology is not ready to give an estimate as to when they will have the Deep Sea out of the water. In the meantime, the cost of the recovery is climbing.
"[The costs are] Between $700 and $750 thousand and we haven't even started raising this vessel, so the costs are going to rise. The ultimate price tag is unknown, but it's going to be above $750 thousand," explains Hart.
The state will continue the temporary closure of shellfish farming in the area, which was declared on May 15th, until Department of Ecology experts can determine that the water is safe.
97.3 KIRO FM's Frank Shiers and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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