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Moses Lake Barge Sinks 9/19/2011
Quick action by the Moses Lake Irrigation and Rehabilitation District, Moses Lake firefighters and Grant County Sheriff’s Marine Deputies helped contain a small oil leak caused when a dredging barge sank in Moses Lake.

Around mid-day Saturday the irrigation district’s 40-foot-long dredging barge was discovered partially submerged in the Parker Horn tributary on the east portion of Moses Lake. Irrigation district crews immediately set up an oil containment boom around the sunken vessel, capturing most of the small amount of leaking oil and fuel. Moses Lake firefighters and the Sheriff’s Marine Unit then strung a precautionary containment boom at the Alder Street Fill Bridge.

After consulting with the Washington Dept. of Ecology’s Spill Response Team, the irrigation district immediately hired a contractor, NRC Environmental Services of Spokane, to clean up the small spill. NRC crews arrived around 5 p.m. Saturday and began assessment and clean up efforts.

The irrigation district has also hired a Seattle-based maritime salvage contractor to help raise the sunken barge. That salvage crew arrived Sunday morning. If the barge can be safely raised, it will be towed close to shore and the oil and fuel will be off-loaded into tank trucks.

The vessel has about 600 gallons of diesel fuel and 300 gallons of synthetic oil stored in onboard tanks. However, only a small amount of synthetic oil has spilled, most of which is captured within the primary containment boom. The ecosystem along Parker Horn appears unaffected. Clean up crews will work throughout the day recovering the small amount of oil which has collected along the shoreline.

The irrigation district will make a full report once it has been determined what caused the vessel to partially sink.