Mark Howard Bowers, the captain of a Washington fishing vessel called the Emerald Sea, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in federal court to failing to report discharge of oil from the boat last summer.
On Aug. 29, the Emerald Sea spilled about 150 gallons of diesel fuel into the Sipanon River in Warrenton, near the Columbia River, while moored and transferring fuel between two tanks, according to a federal indictment.
Crew members of the Emerald Sea told Bowers about the spill when he arrived at the dock between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. that day, but Bowers didn't disclose or report the spill to federal authorities until confronted by U.S. Coast Guard investigators about three hours after the Emerald Sea had left the dock, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan W. Bounds wrote in an indictment.
The Clean Water Act requires that anyone in charge of a vessel, as soon as he or she learns of any discharge of oil or hazardous substance in amounts that may be harmful to public health, welfare or environment, immediately notify the appropriate federal agency.
Coast Guard officials tracked down the vessel in nearby Ilwaco and asked its captain to go back to the marina to clean up the spill. The officials also asked the captain to report the spill to the Coast Guard's National Response Center.
Harbormasters and Emerald Sea crew members used absorbent pads for the cleanup. The vessel's home port is in Aberdeen, Washington.
Bowers, represented by assistant federal public defender Thomas Price, will remain out of custody as the charge is pending in U.S. District Court in Portland.
A two-day trial was tentatively set for May 16.
WARRENTON, Ore. (KOIN) – The captain of a fishing vessel is accused of failing to report an oil spill.
Records show that on August 29, 2016, the Emerald Sea was moored and transferring fuel between two tanks when about 150 gallons of diesel fuel spilled into the Skipanon River. The spill left an “expansive and visible sheen” on the water’s surface, according to the federal grand jury indictment.
Federal prosecutors allege that Captain Mark H. Bowes was briefed, by his crew, about the spill between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. on the day the spill occurred.
“Bowers did not disclose or report the spill to federal authorities…until confronted by United States Coast Guard investigators approximately three hours after the Emerald Sea left the dock,” the indictment states.
Records show the Emerald Sea was moored on the east bank of the river near Northeast Heron Avenue.
The Skipanon River is a navigable tributary of the Columbia River, which then flows into the Pacific Ocean.
Under federal law, the person in charge of a vessel must report, as soon as they have knowledge of a spill, the incident to federal and local authorities.
A court date for Bowers has not been set.
WARRENTON, Ore. — Coast Guard personnel responded Monday to a roughly 250-gallon diesel spill that left a 1-mile by 500-yard sheen at Skipanon Marina on the Columbia River.
The crew of the fishing vessel Emerald Sea, the responsible party, worked with harbormasters to clean the spill using absorbent pads, said the U.S. Coast Guard.
Coast Guard responders reported the sheen was dissipating by 1 p.m.
The master of Emerald Sea, an 86-foot fishing vessel homeported in Aberdeen, Washington, said they spilled the oil while conducting an internal fuel transfer at the marina Monday morning.
Watchstanders at Sector Columbia River received a report of a small sheen that IMD personnel launched to investigate around 9 a.m. They discovered a much larger sheen.
Emerald Sea had since transited to Ilwaco, Wash., where IMD located the crew and requested the master to self-report the spill to Coast Guard National Response Center and return to Skipanon Marina to clean the spill.