Fuel spills in San Juans prompt penalties for two boat owners

The state Department of Ecology last week handed down fines against owners of two boats that sank last year in San Juan County waters.

Nancey Wilbur of La Conner, whose 62-foot commercial fishing boat TW Legacy sank near Decatur Island in August, 2011, with 50 gallons of diesel fuel on board, was ordered to pay $2,500 in the wake of the mishap. The Legacy spilled diesel fuel into Thatcher Pass as a result of its sinking, according to Ecology.

Ecology issued a total of $491,628 in penalties of $1,000 or more in the third quarter of 2012, July, August, September, which includes a $1,500 fine for Patrick Tucker of Phoenix, Ariz. Tucker's pleasure boat, the St. Mary, sank off Shaw Island in December, 2011, spilling 20 gallons of diesel fuel into Blind Bay.

The single-largest third-quarter penalty, $395,000, was leveled against Crown Resources for its failure to maintain a "capture zone" at its Buckhorn Mountain gold mine, near the town of Chewsaw, in Okanongan County. The company reportedly failed to maintain its capture zone for 94 days, discharged water that caused a landslide and discharged water in an unauthorized area.

According to Ecology, penalties are issued in cases where non-compliance continues after the agency has provided technical assistance or warnings, or for serious violations. Penalties may be reduced depending on a ruling form the state Pollution Control Hearings Board or by negotiated settlement.

By state law, money collected from penalties helps to fund an assortment of state-managed pollution control programs and habitat restoration and enhancement programs, such as oil spill prevention, vessel response, electronic recycling and air pollution control.

For a complete list of DOE third-quarter 2012 penalties, or previous quarterly penalties, visit,


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