Coast Guard, partner organizations to remove pollution threat from sinking ferry Astoria, OR; More about the sinking fromThe Ship Report

ASTORIA, Ore. – The U.S. Coast Guard and partner organizations are scheduled to remove fuel and other pollution threats from the ferry vessel Tourist No. 2, Thursday.

The Coast Guard initially responded Thursday, July 28, after receiving a report that the vessel was taking on water at the 6th Street Pier in Astoria. The Coast Guard authorized up to $200,000 to be spent from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, a pot of federal money set aside to allow the federal government to respond immediately to pollution incidents, to contract a company to place containment boom around the vessel and to remove the pollutants.

The Coast guard has developed a plan in conjunction with local contractors to stabilize the vessel in order to commence pollution removal operations. This stabilization process will involve refloating the vessel to ensure the safety of the divers and the first responders as they work to remove approximately 500 gallons of oil from the vessel.

“We are working closely with our local partners to remove any potential contaminants from the vessel,” said Coast Guard Capt. Justin Noggle, the deputy commander of Coast Guard Sector Columbia River, “We are committed to ensuring the safety of our first responders and protection of the environment.”

The Coast Guard is working with the owner and local and state agencies to generate a plan for final disposition of the vessel once all pollution is removed.

Photo by Joanne Rideout, The Ship Report

For more about the Tourist No. 2 sinking – check out The Ship Report –

From Mayor Bruce Jones, City of Astoria, Oregon Tourist No. 2 update:

The National Pollution Funds Center has contracted with Global Diving and Salvage for the pollution response, as the uninsured owner is unable to fulfill his responsibility to remove the hazard created by his vessel. Global’s divers determined the ferry is too unstable to defuel the tanks, which contain an uncertain quantity of diesel. The divers capped and plugged all the fuel vents they could access.

Global subcontracted with a spill response firm, US Ecology, to place boom to contain the spill and absorbent material to recover as much fuel as possible. The USCG Incident Commander directed US Ecology to replace absorbent material and reposition boom this afternoon. Choppy conditions may be contributing to fuel escaping the boom in place now.
Global brought a barge and crane earlier this week but were unable to get close enough to gain leverage to lift the boat due to numerous pilings in the vicinity. The Incident Commander’s plan is for Global to return tomorrow and remove or cut enough pilings to get close enough to the wreck to place straps around it, lift and partially float it. Then defueling will begin as well as the removal of hydraulic fluid, engine oil and other pollutants.
It is important to understand that once the pollution threat is removed, the National Pollution Fund Center is not authorized to fund any further work, to include removing the vessel. Unless the State provides another agency funding to remove the wreck, transport it to a safe location, and appropriately dispose of it, the wreck could simply be dropped back in place. The ferry would inevitably break up, presenting an unacceptable hazard to navigation, to the fuel dock nearby, and to other waterfront structures.
I have contacted both DEQ and DSL to request action to remove the vessel after the immediate pollution threat is removed.