Oil Spill From Japanese Vessel Reaches Washington Shores
Waves of frothy oil from a sunken Japanese fishing vessel have begun washing ashore on some of America’s most pristine shores, threatening sea otters and tens of thousands of birds, Coast Guard officials said Saturday.
More than a dozen oil-drenched birds, both dead and alive, have been found on beaches, said state Department of Wildlife spokesman Doug Zimmer.
“They’re so coated,” Lorraine Durick, a volunteer with the Wild Animal Clinic of Monroe told the Seattle Times. “This stuff is like glue. You can hear the little ones crying.”
Globs of oil hit the western shore of tiny Tatoosh Island on Friday evening, four days after the Japanese fish processor Tenyo Maru sank in the Pacific Ocean off the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The 365-foot Tenyo Maru and the 610-foot Chinese grain ship Tuo Hai collided off the entrance to the strait, which separates Vancouver Island from Washington state.
All but one of the 85 people aboard the Tenyo Maru were rescued. One crew member is presumed drowned. The Tuo Hai sustained only minor damage.
The Tenyo Maru carried 273,214 gallons of bunker fuel and 91,071 gallons of diesel fuel. The spill was expected to be 100,000 gallons or less, said a spokesman for the state Department of Ecology.
“It’s imminent that some of it will be on the mainland beach. How badly, we don’t know,” Coast Guard spokesman Dennis Hall said.