The U.S. Coast Guard is closely monitoring a grounded vessel in the main shipping channel of the Columbia River Monday morning (Mar 21), after the 623-foot bulk carrier Sparna reportedly went aground at 12:16 a.m. local time, in a narrow part of the river near Cathlamet, Washington.
A tug helps stabalize the motor vessel Sparna while the Sparna awaits repairs after it reportedly ran aground in the Columbia River near Cathlamet, Wash., March 21, 2016. - U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Read
USCG pollution responders established a unified command incident management structure with Washington Department of Ecology and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality personnel, and alerted federal, state and county agency partners.
“The positive news so far is that responders have not observed any oil in the water,” said Capt. Dan Travers, Coast Guard Captain of the Port for the Columbia River. “The vessel quickly activated its plan and all federal, state, and county responders mobilized immediately. This is a joint effort with both states and hopefully will just turn out to have been an exercise in mobilizing pollution response resources.”
The Sparna is fully loaded with grain and was outbound, or heading west, in the Columbia River with a river pilot still on board when it ran into trouble. The cause of the incident is under investigation. The Sparna immediately activated its “Vessel Response Plan,” required of all large vessels transiting the Columbia River for pollution contingencies.
Under the vessel’s response plan, the Maritime Fire & Safety Association and Clean Rivers Cooperative deployed response vessels, boom and personnel. Incident Management Division responders from Coast Guard Sector Columbia River met Clean Rivers personnel in Cathlamet for a seamless, coordinated response.
The Sparna is laden with 218,380 gallons of high sulfur fuel and 39,380 gallons of marine diesel. Two tug boats – the PJ Brix and Pacific Escort – are on scene to keep the Sparna stabilized. The Coast Guard has not closed the navigable channel of the river.