Sunken boat leaks diesel at Pillar Point

May 27, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
On the Peninsula, the U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Fish and Game are closely monitoring a diesel fuel leak in the waters off Half Moon Bay. The spill was spotted Thursday near Pillar Point Harbor in San Mateo County. That's where a cabin cruiser sank in March.

By late Thursday night the oil sheen seemed to be getting smaller and the wind, currents, and late afternoon sun helped break it down.

Even though the diesel sheen appears to be dissipating, Fish and Game is taking no chances. Earlier on Thursday night, the agency issued an advisory.

"We're advising fishers and shellfish harvesters to not take anything inside the breakwater at this point because of the spill, because of the boat," said state Fish and Game warden Scott Murtha.

The spill was discovered at about 10:30 a.m., just inside the outer break wall of Pillar Point Harbor. Officials say the leak is coming from a 52-foot cabin cruiser called "The Gypsy," which sank about a half mile from the harbor three months ago.

Authorities believe Thursday morning's storm damaged the boat's fuel tanks. Fish and Game says so far, there's no evidence the spill has reached San Mateo County's beaches. It seems to be contained mainly to the waters around the harbor.

"It appears that the release from the vessel is fairly slow which gives the petroleum a chance to dissipate a little bit. So were not seeing a large accumulation that birds can get into," said environmental scientist Kathleen Jennings, Ph.D.

The Coast Guard deployed containment booms and absorbent material from the San Mateo County oil spill response trailer. The booms are mainly to protect a commercial abalone farm located very close to the sunken vessel.

No one knows just how much diesel is leaking from "The Gypsy." The Coast Guard intends to find out on Friday morning.

"We are currently thinking of getting a diver down there and having him estimate how much fuel is on board, then remove the fuel that way," said Coast Guard Petty Officer Lucas Martin.

Once divers take a look at the situation, they will decide best how to siphon off that fuel off of the boat. Authorities told ABC7 they were unable to contact the owner of the boat and say the owner is liable for the costs of the emergency response as well as fines and penalties for the spill.


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