CHARLESTON — The diesel fuel that leaked from a wrecked crab boat near Cape Arago on Thursday has safely dissipated, but it left behind a multi-jurisidictional mess for state and federal agencies.
As of 4:15 p.m. Thursday, only a thin film of fuel lingered north of the stricken Robert Henry beneath the Simpson Reef overlook.
“It seems to be moving straight out away from shore,” and the outlook is as good as could be expected for this type of scenario, said Dawn Grafe, acting project leader for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Newport office. “No sick mammals have been spotted.”
According to Grafe, the sheen that resulted from the split vessel was approximately 20 feet wide by 160 yards long.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are among the agencies assisting with environmental monitoring.
“Our role is to advise the incident commanders of the natural resources present at the site,” said ODFW spokesperson David Lane.
Lane said his agency defers authority over marine mammals to the federal government.
Pollution wasn’t the only potentially sticky situation created by the wreck.
Initially, responsibility for the offshore wreck was shared by the U.S. Coast Guard — which rescued the crew — and the vessel’s insurer, Sunderland Marine Mutual Insurance.
But by Friday, the crab boat had split completely in two, with the stern section drifting toward shore.
According to Chris Havel of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, once that piece hit land, its removal became his agency’s sole responsibility.
Commercial salvage crews worked alongside state and federal employees to secure the beach throughout the day Friday.
After exploring a number of scenarios, the agency has settled on using a crane to hoist the stern off the beach.
“The Simpson Reef overlook will be closed through Jan. 7,” in order for equipment to be brought in and the stern section to be removed, Havel said.
The cause of the wreck is still under investigation.
Reporter Thomas Moriarty can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 240, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @ThomasDMoriarty.