Between 300 and 400 gallons of diesel fuel spilled into Yaquina Bay Monday night, Aug. 13, according to NWFF Environmental, a service spill oversight and land and marine spill cleaner. The day-and-a-half effort to clean up the red dye diesel culminated late Wednesday.
“We controlled the spill and figured out where the implants were at,” said Shiloh McConnell, marine division response manager at NWFF Environmental. “To bring it in, we got down to where we could manage it, and we started absorbing it.”
While NWFF Environmental employees estimated the spilled fuel to be at 300 to 350 gallons, a Department of Environmental Quality public relations official said it was actually closer to 400, despite initial reports of 700 gallons.
“I can say it’s hard to have the exact numbers estimated because that’s something that changes as we respond,” said DEQ public affairs specialist Katherine Benenati.
NWFF Environmental employees said a transfer-pump station was either left on or turned on, spilling the fuel into the water. After NWFF Environmental responded, absorbents that soak up only petroleum products were brought in to clean up the fuel.
A public relations official at Oregon Department of Environmental Quality said Wednesday afternoon the cleanup had been completed.
“We actually wrapped up today, but we will continue to monitor the situation in the future,” Benenati said.
According to McConnell, there was only one animal affected by the spill — a male seagull that got oil on its wings.
“He was taken to HMSC [Hatfield Marine Science Center] to get him fix up,” said McConnell.
The spill was fairly low-impact, McConnell said, and all the fuel was cleaned up quickly. Officials from multiple other organizations and agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Environmental Quality were involved in the cleanup, although no one who works for those groups answered calls from the News-Times or returned calls for comment.
“The cleanup was successful,” McConnell said. “The bay is cleaner than it’s ever been.”
This isn’t the first time Yaquina Bay has fallen victim to a leak. In August 2017, an ammonia gas leak was reported at Pacific Shrimp on Bay Boulevard, leading to a 12-hour shutdown of the street and several businesses in the Bayfront before the leak was stopped.