Why was a boom to capture oil never placed around the vessel?
The current in the area where the Hero sank moves quite fast, and reverses flow as the tide changes. Diesel is very thin and difficult to recover with a boom. In this instance, the boom would have interfered with navigation, would have needed constant monitoring, and still would have been ineffective as the oil would have gone under, over, and through the boom.
Why does it appear nothing is being done?
This could not be further from the truth. The Pacific County Emergency Management Agency notified the State Emergency Operations Officer about the sinking as soon as it happened. The State Emergency Operations Officer notified all appropriate agencies including the United States Coast Guard and the Washington State Department of Ecology and Department of Natural Resources. Since that time, PCEMA, DOE, and the USCG have been visiting the scene daily. The United States Coast Guard opened their Oil Pollution fund and hired a contractor, Global Diving and Salvage, to mitigate the pollution. Crews successfully removed all accessible petroleum product from the vessel earlier this week, but significant hazards and the inability to safely position divers to access tanks that are underwater has hindered a full accounting of the hazardous material. A full accounting will not be possible until the salvage and recovery operations begin. The Department of Natural Resources is currently evaluating removal options and working to identify possible funding for the operation.
Activity at the scene is driven by tidal conditions. In addition to the oil recovery operations an investigation is taking place to determine ownership of the boat and to determine what enforcement actions are appropriate.
Why hasn’t the ship been refloated or removed?
The ship is too damaged to refloat. The costs for removal of the ship are anticipated to approach $1 million. The authority having jurisdiction in terms of removing the ship is the Department of Natural Resources. They do not have the money in their budget to cover this $1 million expense. The DOE, USCG and DNR are working to develop a plan both to remove the vessel and to fund the removal of the vessel. A funding request has been submitted to the Washington State Legislature
How long will the sheen continue?
The number 1 priority surrounding all work being done around the ship is personnel safety. One tank cannot be safely accessed, however, evidence indicates there is minimal to no oil in the tank. There is still a steady rainbow sheen coming off of the vessel and a palpable odor of diesel in the air. Testing done yesterday confirms that the product causing the sheen is indeed diesel. DOE and the USCG believe that there is only residual diesel left on the vessel. However, they also indicated that the vessel will continue to sheen as long as it remains in the water. They do believe that over the next several days the sheening will reduce significantly.