Ecology Sets $70k Fine For Spills From Sunken Boats In Steamboat Slough

February 10, 2022


A local boat owner is looking at $70,000.00 in fines from the Washington State Department of Ecology following spills into the Snohomish Slough from two vessels about a year and a half ago. Here are the details from the agency.

The Elusive Dream and Shilo in the Steamboat Slough. Photo credit: Department of Ecology.

In 2020, a large vessel tipped over and pushed a smaller boat under water, then sank itself, releasing oil and gas into Steamboat Slough on the Snohomish River near Everett. Now, the Washington Department of Ecology is penalizing Ron Barber, the owner of both vessels, $70,000 for the spill.

The incident began on Aug. 16, 2020, when Ecology responded to reports of two sunken vessels along the bank of Steamboat Slough. The larger vessel, Elusive Dream, had rolled over during low tide, pushing down the smaller vessel, Shilo, and sinking it. Additional flooding through the Elusive Dream’s open decking eventually caused the vessel to sink as well. Barber and neighbors placed boom around the vessels to contain oil and fuel escaping from the sunken vessels.

After Barber was unsuccessful in refloating the Shilo with a bulldozer, Ecology hired contractors to respond and control the spill. Over the course of response efforts, diesel continued to escape from the sunken vessel.

The Elusive Dream was upright and floating again by Aug. 30. However, efforts to refloat the Shilo were unsuccessful. An estimated 214 gallons of diesel, and likely some lubricating oil, were spilled into the river.

Barber moored the two vessels at a dilapidated dock on the slough, and the Elusive Dream regularly came to rest on the bank during low tide – both factors that contributed to the vessels’ eventual fate. The penalty is a result of diesel entering waters of the state and Barber’s negligence for continuing to moor his vessels at a location where a spill was forseeable.

Barber was previously penalized $750 for a 50-gallon diesel spill at the same location in 2009.

The Steamboat Slough area is designated as a critical habitat for several federally listed species of wildlife. Even a small amount of diesel can cause impacts to the environment, and to birds, fish and other wildlife.

Barber has 30 days to appeal the penalty to the Pollution Control Hearings Board.


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My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

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