Oil sheen from sunken boat in Salish Sea has dissipated, officials say


The Washington state Department of Ecology says an oil sheen from a sunken fish boat appears to have completely dissipated from an area of U.S. waters just east of Vancouver Island.

The update comes as the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies work to recover the 15-metre Aleutian Isle, which went down Saturday with about 10,000 litres of oil and diesel aboard.

Five crew members were saved, but the vessel now lies in roughly 60 metres of water near San Juan Island, Wash., in Haro Strait, about 25 kilometres east of Victoria.

The statement from the Department of Ecology on Wednesday said no oil residue has been found on the island and measures are being used to deter any whales and other cetaceans from venturing near the wreck, which is in a key feeding ground for critically endangered southern resident killer whales.

A number of divers with identical clothes approach a beach with multiple logs.
In a photo released Tuesday, shoreline teams are seen walking down to a beach on San Juan Island, Wash. to look for signs of pollution after a fish boat sank in U.S. waters just east of Victoria. (Handout/U.S. Coast Guard via The Canadian Press)

One large seine net that floated free of the fish boat was recovered Tuesday and divers also pulled up several panels of a second net that was floating in about 30 metres of water.

The depth of the Aleutian Isle is complicating efforts to examine it before the remaining fuel can be drained or the ship can be salvaged. Officials said there is currently no timeline for any of that work.

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