Ship leaking ammonia in Tacoma waterway has history of violations

Aug 25, 2023, 11:03 AM | Updated: 11:15 am

coast guard ammonia ship...

(Photo from U.S. Coast Guard)

(Photo from U.S. Coast Guard)

The Washington Department of Ecology reports the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is working to neutralize an ammonia leak on a ship in Tacoma.

The USCG responded to the vessel, called the Pacific Producer, on Aug. 16, and officials say crews are still trying to find the leak.

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While wearing Hazmat suits, crews were planning to inject carbon dioxide into the ship Tuesday to control the dangerous fumes. The carbon dioxide will neutralize the ammonia so crews can safely access the vessel.

Next, they will determine a plan to remove the ammonia from the ship.

The EPA is on site, monitoring the air quality, and officials say there is no threat to the public at this time.

#UPDATE Contractors will inject CO2 into the vessel overnight to neutralize the ammonia for crews to safely access the vessel and determine a plan to remove the ammonia. EPA on site conducting air monitoring. There is no threat to the public at this time. @TacomaFire @ecysw

The Pacific Producer has a long history of safety violations, from OSHA violations like a contaminated drinking water system, dangerous electrical hazards, and a previous ammonia leak in 2018.

The ship racked up $208,983 worth of penalties, which the owners of the ship, East West Seafoods LLC and Christos Tsabouris, have contested.

The company has also faced a federal court in Alaska for intentionally discharging oily bilge water and 1,000 gallons of raw sewage into the ocean within three miles of the Alaskan coast in 2013 and later presented false records to the USCG. Tsabouris was placed on five years of probation and fined $10,000 for his role in the environmental damage.

“Alaskan fishing industry workers depend on their employers for vessels that don’t jeopardize their safety and health,” OSHA Acting Regional Administrator Jack A. Rector said in a statement. “For more than a decade, our inspectors have found disgusting and dangerous conditions aboard the F/V Pacific Producer, and the well-being of crews aboard the vessel are at great risk because of its owner’s failures.”

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Ship leaking ammonia in Tacoma waterway has history of violations