Another pressing environmental concern South Maury Island faces is oil spills. Although they are not directly related to the Glacier Northwest mining controversy, oil spills add to the sensitivity of the area as an aquatic reserve. On October 14, 2004, an oil spill occurred in the Dalco Passage at around 1 AM. An estimated 1,000 gallons spilled into the waterways surrounding Vashon/Maury Island. The source of the oil was initially unknown, but tests carried out by the Coast Guard and Washington Department of Ecology determined that the source was the Polar Texas oil tanker owned by ConocoPhillips. (Washington State Department of Ecology Web Page: Dalco Passage Spill)
Though recent spills have been minor, there is concern that Washington does not have the capacity to respond to a big oil spill in the future, which would devastate the environment and have significant impacts on the surrounding community, wildlife, and fisheries. Efforts are being made to strengthen the community, State, and Coast Guard partnership in preventing and responding to oil spills effectively. Washington is also working to improve Tug Escorts for loaded tankers, enhance oil spill contingency plans, and remedy environmental damage already cased by oil spills. (Washington State Department of Ecology Web Page: Spill Prevention, Preparedness, and Response)
One of the more recent oil spills occurred on January 28, 2005. Ecology officials estimated that “hundreds of gallons” contaminated the Dalco Passage off Vashon/Maury Island. The cause of the spill is still unknown, even after the Coast Guard and Department of Ecology collected oil samples in an effort to identify the source (People for Puget Sound article on Jan. 2005 oil spill).
In dealing with significant oil spills, the Washington State Department of Ecology works with other organizations to assess the damage done in monetary value, and, if possible, seeks compensation from the responsible party(s). The State Department of Ecology then works with other organizations, using the money to mitigate the oil spill, to restore and protect priority wildlife habitats (Washington State Spill Prevention/Response page).
Read more about this topic: South Maury Island Environmental Issues
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