Washington State Issues Fine to Tanker Company

Thursday, February 21, 2002
Alaska Tanker Company was fined $25,000 by the state for allowing an estimated 462 gallons of crude oil to spill from the tanker, Prince William Sound, into Port Angeles harbor. The spill partly stained two miles of beach inside Ediz Hook. The state Department of Ecology's investigation found that the tanker's crew allowed a deck-drain system to fail because there was no check valve in place to prevent it from overflowing in Port Angeles Harbor on a journey from Valdez, Alaska, to Cherry Point. It was carrying a full load of Alaska North Slope crude oil.

"The shipping company cooperated fully with the emergency spill response, but nonetheless, the spill was preventable and jeopardized a valuable marine environment," said Dale Jensen, manager of Ecology's spill prevention program. Alaska Tanker Company took responsibility for the spill cleanup and initiated the call-out of spill response resources.

"Valuable lessons have been learned from the spill and we are working with the Department of Ecology in spreading the lessons learned," said Anil Mathur, the company's president and chief executive officer. "We have taken corrective action in terms of the physical systems on our ships, our work practices and personnel training." The U.S. Coast Guard, Ecology and Alaska Tanker Company formed a unified effort to respond to the spill. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife assisted, activating its bird-rescue volunteer teams. Bird rescue field teams worked six days, treating 11 oiled birds. Nine birds were cleaned and released. Two died of unrelated causes. Nearby Dungeness Spit, a nationally designated wildlife refuge, was unharmed by the spill. Alaska Tanker Company has volunteered to participate in Ecology's Voluntary Best Achievable Protection program, open to all tank vessel operators who agree to comply with high standards of care to prevent oil spills in Washington waters. Ecology and the company will present lessons learned from this incident at a marine industry forum in Baltimore February 26 and 27.

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