Wednesday, October 27, 2021

No progress on skimming oily water in Skagit River since spill

No action can be taken by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation until the leak has been halted. Fuel Recovery (FRE) CEO Eric Laudermilk said it is possible that all of the fuel oil that leaked into the Skagit River has been recovered.

“This was the biggest incident in the history of Oil Recovery, and it was by far our most costly,” he said. Oil Recovery recorded damages of $27.7 million, the vast majority of which was for environmental cleanup, he said.

The gas line remains shut off as part of the cleanup, and pipelines were checked around the lake to confirm the only other fuel oil vessel is not leaking.

“We didn’t want to believe that this would happen,” Laudermilk said. “We are fully committed to environmental restoration on the lake, because we are the victims in this, not the perpetrators.”

Laudermilk is at full capacity, but Oil Recovery’s 70 full-time staff have been working 12-hour shifts in shifts to clean up the pipeline leak.

The spill occurred July 13 after Tropical Storm Ida tore a hole in the line as it travelled from Grays Harbor, Washington, to Mount Vernon, Washington.

According to US News & World Report, the spill caused a “massive slick” after hitting the upper Skagit River and the Skagit River Blues Note music festival is being postponed, in part to allow cleanup crews to get a head start.

On July 19, the first 15 flights with oil recovery equipment were able to land, reducing the pollution and remaining risk. However, the liability for the oil is still up to ExxonMobil.

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