Cleanup complete for ship leaking ammonia into Tacoma waters

Sep 18, 2023, 11:30 AM | Updated: 1:22 pm

ship leaking ammonia tacoma...

The fishing vessel 'Pacific Producer' sits in the Thea Foss Waterway in Tacoma, Wash., on Sept. 13, 2023. Coast Guard crews from Sector Puget Sound assisted in the removal of fuel, oil, and hazmat materials from the vessel to ensure it would no longer be a threat to the public or local marine environment. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

(U.S. Coast Guard photo)

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has finished removing all hazardous materials from a fishing vessel that was leaking ammonia into a waterway in Tacoma.

The Pacific Producer, currently moored in the Thea Foss Waterway in Tacoma, was first reported to be leaking ammonia on Aug. 13 as crews worked to clear the dangerous chemicals. The Washington Department of Ecology and Tacoma Fire Department also responded to the incident.

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Over the course of more than a month, hazmat crews worked to secure ammonia tanks, removing 3,500 pounds of ammonia from the ship. All other hazardous materials, including paint, flammable liquids, corrosives, and pressurized gas cylinders, were also removed.

“The vessel was determined to present a significant threat to the environment, and the federal on-scene coordinator took action to protect public health and the environment,” the USCG said in their update.

The Pacific Producer has a long history of safety violations. They range 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.

USCG Captain Mark McDonnell, the Coast Guard federal on-scene coordinator, said the quick response by USCG was key in preventing further damage to the environment caused by the ship.

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“This was a complex operation that required a swift and coordinated response to ensure the protection of the public and the environment,” McDonnell said in a statement. “I would like to thank our excellent partners at the Washington Department of Ecology and Department of Natural Resources, (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), City of Tacoma, and the Puyallup Tribe for their incredible support, which resulted in this successful operation.”

The Washington Department of Natural Resources assumed emergency custody of the Pacific Producer and is working to stabilize the ship.

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Cleanup complete for ship leaking ammonia into Tacoma waters