Bulk carrier runs aground

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Pollution responders are watching a ship that ran aground just after midnight.

The Daily Astorian

Published on March 21, 2016 9:19AM

Last changed on March 21, 2016 12:20PM

Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Levi ReadA tug boat helps stabalize the motor vessel Sparna, a 623-foot Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier that ran aground Monday in the Columbia River near Cathlamet, Washington. The Sparna is loaded with grain and fuel and was headed west on the Columbia River when it grounded.

Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Levi ReadA tug boat helps stabalize the motor vessel Sparna, a 623-foot Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier that ran aground Monday in the Columbia River near Cathlamet, Washington. The Sparna is loaded with grain and fuel and was headed west on the Columbia River when it grounded.

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CATHLAMET, Wash. — The U.S. Coast Guard is closely monitoring a bulk carrier that ran aground in the main shipping channel of the Columbia River just after midnight today near Cathlamet.

Pollution responders from the Coast Guard alerted local and federal agencies and established an incident command with the Washington Department of Ecology and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

“The positive news so far is that responders have not observed any oil in the water,” Capt. Dan Travers, commander of Sector Columbia River, said in a statement. “The vessel quickly activated its plan and all federal, state, and county responders mobilized immediately. This is a joint effort with both states and hopefully will just turn out to have been an exercise in mobilizing pollution response resources.”

The cause of the grounding is under investigation. The bulk carrier — the Sparna — was outbound, fully loaded with grain, and heading west in the Columbia with a river pilot still on board when it ran aground. The vessel is also filled with more than 218,000 gallons of high-sulfur fuel and more than 39,000 gallons of marine diesel.

The Maritime Fire & Safety Association and Clean Rivers Cooperative deployed response vessels, booms and personnel. The tugs PJ Brix and Pacific Escort are on scene to keep the Sparna stabilized. The Coast Guard has not closed the river channel.

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