Oil sheen and soap suds prompt investigation in Olympia harbor

OLYMPIA – An extensive oil sheen and strong diesel-fuel odors were reported late Sunday night at West Bay Marina, 2100 West Bay Drive. This prompted an investigation by Department of Ecology spill responders that continued on Monday.

No source of the discharge has been found for the sheen that covered the whole marina. Ecology estimates between 25-50 gallons of oil was released.

It appeared as though some kind of detergent or soap had been used on the sheen at some point, perhaps in an attempt to dissipate the oil, said spill responder Doug Stolz.

“We want to remind boaters not to apply soaps, detergents, or any other dispersants to oil, either before or after it is discharged to waters,” Stolz said. “Soap may appear to make the oil go away, but it just breaks it up and allows it to go into the water column, where it can do even more damage to marine organisms.”

Oil particles and soap are toxic to fish and other aquatic animals. Persons who discharge oil, or are found to have added soap to an oil spill on the water may be subject to enforcement actions (including fines) and may have to pay damage assessments and cleanup costs. Report an oil spill by calling 1-800-258-5990 -OR- 1-800-OILS-911.