LUMMI ISLAND – An oil spill from two sunken barges on the south end of Lummi Island is contained for now, the state Department of Ecology said Thursday afternoon, March 15.
Divers from Ballard Diving and Salvage of Seattle were cutting one of two submerged barges into pieces for removal on Thursday when a sheen of oil, 100 feet long and 6 feet wide, appeared and moved toward shore in strong winds, Ecology spokeswoman Jani Gilbert said.
State and federal authorities did not know what type of oil was leaking or how much there was. The divers from the salvage company might have disrupted sediment around the barges and released oil that was trapped underneath, Gilbert said. The barges had been under water for a couple years, and Ballard Diving had been hired by the Lummi Rock quarry to remove them.
The spill, just offshore of the quarry on the island, was affecting 200 feet of shoreline, a state Department of Ecology statement said. It wasn’t immediately known if the spill was affecting sensitive habitat. There might be eelgrass in the area, which is habitat for herring, Gilbert said.
Workers with Lummi Rock placed a containment boom and absorbent materials around the submerged barges and on the shore. Active cleanup would not begin until Friday, Gilbert said.
Ecology was not able to confirm another oil sheen at the same site, reported on March 8.