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    Diesel Spill

    I will probably cross post this on another boating site I frequent, so apologies if you see it twice,

    So, I'm putting this out in the hope a person or two might pick up a hint.

    We took "Satisfaction" our 4788 Bayliner out for a couple days, just cuz. Weather was supposed to be not horrible and not much is crowded, so why not.

    We decided to run up to Kingston, which for non Puget Sounders is a pleasant marina northwest of Seattle. Its close to town, so easy to walk around, great place for the dogs to chase frisbee and normally, they even have a couple electric cars that marina guests can use. they work hard. Good place.

    It was cool enough so that I left the Webasto Hydronic heat system going. Woke up to marina staff knocking on the boat telling us we were leading diesel.

    To make a long story short, the diesel for the heater was plumbed out of one tank, with a return to the other tank. I had no idea, which is my fault. As we all know there are countless systems of all kinds on boats and I simply neglected to trace out the fuel lines to figure out where they went. During the course of the night, the heater pulled enough fuel out of one tank with surplus going to the other, so that sometime in the morning, the receiving tank filled up and fuel started dumping out the vent, into the water. That tank had not been very close to full, and after chatting with the folks at Sure Marine I realized that the pump used for the heater moves a LOT of fuel.

    So, we wake up to a LOT of action. Marina Staff flooding the slip and neighboring slips with absorbent material and a cloth type boom. I learned the protocol in about 30 seconds: Call Washington Dept of Ecoloby, Call the Coast Guard, call insurance, and most important, call the marine salvage or clean up guys. Original estimate was less than 10 gallons, but as things evolved, it turned out to be about 20 gallons.

    I did find out that if you call Ecology right away, it can be a help, as they have funds to help with reimbursement for clean up. (if you make excuses and act like an ass, amazingly someone forgets to tell you about that) I also found out if you call Coast Guard right away it helps as well. They give you whatever hints they can to help solve the problem, e.g. who to call for what etc. There is also a national reporting center you are supposed to call. If you're proactive and polite (not always easy for me) you'll get what help they can give and hopefully avoid a fine.

    What I also found out is that even if you're fully insured, you still need to get on top of things asap. I have Pemco. When I called, I got the "we'll pass it on to an adjuster and you should expect a call within the next couple days" Well, that just does not work. As the coast guard told me, if I had not called someone to get on the salvage by the time they, the coast guard, got on site, they, the coast guard would have called and they told me the price tag would have more than doubled.. So I got on the phone with salvage and after they charged my credit card $5,000.00, they were on the way. Spent a good part of yesterday on the cleanup, and some more time this morning....after they charged my credit card another $6,000. And oh yeah...the marina gave me their bill for their work on clean up, for $1,800.

    So 20 gallons of diesel cost me almost $13,000. I should be reimbursed for most of it, but still.

    So the lessons I learned.

    First, if you have a boat, especially if its diesel and you don't have spill coverage, you're just plain dumb. When something like this happens, you really have no negotiating power. You call right away and they say pay and you pay, unless you want to risk the exxon valdez type of spread and an exponential increase in cost. Its time and material with no upset price and a big retainer before they show up.

    Second, I guess even the goofiest stuff can create BIG problems. Who'd have guessed that the heater would dump all this fuel? Who would have guessed that 20 gallons would cause this much mess?

    Third, I received kind words time after time from all involved because I didn't try and make excuses and stepped up right away to get things made right even helping to pull the soaked pads up out of the water. I say this only because this does seem to be one of those occasions where not waiting for the system to grind its way to a conclusion actually makes a difference. Hell, the marina even offered me a free extra night if that would help.

    Fourth, operator, or rather ownership error, can cause as much of a problem as any broken part.

    Firth, the problems associated with a spill seem to grow exponentially with the size of the spill. A gallon or two could have been handled "in house". If this had been over 50 gallons, I'd be looking for a presidential pardon.

    What the tough part is would be what if you didn't have 10-15k laying around to cover your goofups, or didn't have a credit card? I'm not sure. I suppose coast guard would have called them and eventually, I'd have a far higher bill.

    Hope none of you have the same wake up call next time you spend the night on your boat

    toni
    Toni Froehling

    Yelm, Washington
    1994 Hino powered 4788

    #2
    Thanks for sharing. I'm going to check our insurance policy. While fueling (gas) I hold the pump handle and during the entire procedure I keep an ear next to the filler hole. When I fueled this boat for the first time, I learned about the incredible burp. No burping now. It's slow and steady and when I start to hear gurgling, that's all she gets. Not a drop is spilled.

    Comment


      #3
      A link and a quote:
      Oil Fact Sheets for Spill Responders | response.restoration.noaa.gov
      Browse down to small diesel spills (500-5,000 gallons). Yes, a small diesel spill is 500-5,000 gallons.
      quote:
      Diesel oil is readily and completely degraded by naturally occurring microbes, under time frames of one to two months. • In terms of toxicity to water-column organisms, diesel is considered to be one of the most acutely toxic oil types. Fish, invertebrates and seaweed that come in direct contact with a diesel spill may be killed. However, small spills in open water are so rapidly diluted that fish kills have never been reported. Fish kills have been reported for small spills in confined, shallow water. • Crabs and shellfish can be tainted from small diesel spills in shallow, nearshore areas. These organisms bioaccumulate the oil, but will also depurate the oil, usually over a period of several weeks after exposure.
      I'm not saying it isn't serious. I'm just saying this is NOAA saying this.

      Tally and Vicki
      "Wickus" Meridian 341
      MMSI 338014939

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks for sharing. Can happen to any of us.
        "Impasse". 2001 3988
        Cummins 330's
        Puget Sound

        "You don't want to be the richest guy in the nursing home..."

        Comment


          #5
          Toni, seems like the pickup and return should go to the same tank, like the gennie. Are you going to make that change?
          Tally and Vicki
          "Wickus" Meridian 341
          MMSI 338014939

          Comment


            #6
            You must have been really close to full as well to make this happen. I haven't seen a diesel furnace with a return line but I haven't paid attention to details on a Webasto Hydronic unit either. Everyone I know has air-air exchangers.

            Normally people do this when trying to balance fuel between tanks and underestimate how much fuel get returned while running. (FYI - it is usually about 3x your burn rate). A logical fuel distribution panel is one of my to-do projects. Right now the valve to select tanks and return are scattered and If I wanted to do anything but draw and return from same tanks I would have to do some serious thinking on what valves open and what to close.

            Glad that everything should sort it self out on the $$ side of things and this can serve as a cautionary tale.
            1999 Sandpiper Pilothouse - Current
            1989 3888 - 2011-2019, 1985 Contessa - 2005-2011, 1986 21' Trophy 1998-2005
            Nobody gets out alive.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by talman View Post
              Toni, seems like the pickup and return should go to the same tank, like the gennie. Are you going to make that change?
              Already done. Did it that afternoon.
              Toni Froehling

              Yelm, Washington
              1994 Hino powered 4788

              Comment


                #8
                Wow, that’s a bit of a nightmare.

                I’m going to print myself a “In case of spill” sheet with the info you provided and phone numbers and keep with my running papers.

                hope your insurance covers it all! I might need to bump up my coverage!

                edit: just checked my insurance and I have $500,000 coverage for oil spill.
                Last edited by purduepilot; 02-22-2021, 04:21 PM.
                Brad
                Lake Union, Seattle
                1987 Bayliner 4550 "Ark Angel"
                Hino EH700T / MG-502 / Cummins Onan 7kw

                Comment


                  #9
                  THe latest update. I'm having trouble getting an itemized billing from the cleanup service. They were quick to charge $11,000.00 to my card, but a bit slow with the paperwork. Since my credit card bill will be coming soon, I'm hoping to get them moving sooner rather than later.
                  toni
                  Toni Froehling

                  Yelm, Washington
                  1994 Hino powered 4788

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Regardless of the root cause, and the fix...The big takeaway I got from your experience is to not try to hide it, not try to BS your way out of it, just get after getting it solved.

                    Thanks! for sharing! Great lessons to learn here!

                    KEVIN SANDERS
                    4788 LISAS WAY - SEWARD ALASKA
                    www.transferswitch4less.com

                    Whats the weather like on our boat
                    https://www.weatherlink.com/embeddab...59665f4e4/wide


                    Where are we right now? https://maps.findmespot.com/s/36S4

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