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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fuel spills into Columbia River from boat sinking

The pleasure craft Granby sank while moored near Willow Grove Park on Tuesday, a Washington-state recreational island on the Columbia River. The 75-foot wood-hulled trawler, aged 84 years, was carrying up to 600 gallons of diesel fuel, which began gushing into the river when the boat was damaged. While up to 250 gallons of that fuel was safely pumped into on-shore tanks as much as 100 gallons did spill, leaving a prismic sheen on the water's surface. As of this writing there is no estimated time-frame for cleanup.

Officials disagree over how much, or even if, the accident will affect fish and wildlife on and around the island park. The state's Ecology Department is warning that the immediate area (along with downstream wetlands) is in danger of being negatively impacted, while a Coast Guard [CG] Marine Science Chief asserted there was no risk to the environment. The CG official had also confidently stated that the sheen would evaporate off the surface 'within a few hours,' something which has clearly not occurred.

Willow Grove Park, approximately 55 miles downstream from the Portland, Oregon, is normally a popular place for beach-goers and water sports enthusiasts; bird-watchers also enjoy the island, with red-shouldered hawks being a major draw. Until clean-up from the sinking of the Granby is complete the park has been closed, with all water-activities being suspended.

Observation: Yes, I am aware of the fact this story is not exactly 'potentially cataclysmic' in nature (although the wildlife in the area might disagree, if they had a voice), but I decided to cover it as a reminder of an important point: even in minor incidents such as this, government officials - those who would be trusted by the apathetic majority to direct citizens through a worst-case scenario - are often conflicted and clueless. Something to bear in mind - SB.

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