Major spill cleanup done, county says

At least two oil booms have been removed from South Kitsap creeks as the major cleanup operation in Kitsap County has ended following last week’s oil spill in Dalco Passage, according to Jim Bolger, the county’s program manager for the Natural Resources Department.

A day after the spill on Thursday, Oct. 21, large plastic booms were placed in front of Olalla and Curley creeks to protect valuable salmon habitats, and a third was placed near the Harper Estuary in South Colby the next day.

On Thursday, Bolger said both booms in South Colby had been removed, although he was not certain if the boom near Olalla Creek still remained in place.

Bolger said the shore near Olalla Creek was the only site where oil was confirmed to have reached county beaches, although the heaviest concentrations were reported on the southern beaches of Vashon and Maury Islands, just north of the spill site.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Coast Guard reported Olalla Bay was also the only area where a small, thin patch of non-recoverable oil remained on the water.

Shawn Ultican of the Kitsap County Health District said his office is still warning against harvesting any clams, mussels or oysters from the area near Olalla Bay affected by the oil spill.

The advisory applies to beaches on Colvos Passage between the southern Kitsap County line and Prospect Point, and Ultican said he expects it to be in effect for at least two months while the district collects data on the shellfish in the area.

This advisory is in addition to the warning regarding Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning issued on Sept. 30, which has been lifted for Dyes Inlet, but is still in effect for the eastern side of Kitsap County, including all beaches in Appletree Cove, Miller Bay, Liberty Bay, Bainbridge Island, Sinclair Inlet, and Colvos Passage.

The Coast Guard last estimated the total cost of the cleanup exceeded $1.4 million and reported federal agencies have funded approximately 90 percent of the cost, while Washington state covered the remaining 10 percent.

As of Thursday, the Coast Guard and the Washington State Department of Ecology reported the investigation into the cause and origin of the oil spill continues; two subpoenas have been issued by marine investigators in relation to the case, but the investigation has not narrowed in scope to any specific vessels or facilities at this time.

Anyone with questions or wanting to provide information may call the Coast Guard at (206) 391-6705. 

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