No charges for crude oil spill in Puget Sound

SEATTLE – No federal charges will be filed for a crude oil spill that fouled central Puget Sound beaches nearly two years ago, while negotiations on civil penalties are continuing, a government lawyer said.

The spill, first reported by a tugboat operator in Dalco Passage about 1 a.m. Oct. 14, 2004, left residue on 21 miles of beaches, mostly at the south ends of Vashon and Maury islands. Cleanup cost $1.9 million.

Months later, state and Coast Guard officials said chemical testing indicated the oil was likely from the aging tanker Polar Texas, owned by a ConocoPhillips subsidiary, Polar Tankers of Long Beach, Calif. The vessel had just delivered a load of Alaskan crude oil to U.S. Oil and Refining Co. in Tacoma and apparently was the only tanker in the area.

The Coast Guard, which investigates oil spills, said it would continue to coordinate possible civil action against the company with a Justice Department unit in San Francisco.

Associated Press

Spokane: Sculpture honors worker who died

Nearly 150 people, including the wife and the daughter of a worker who died when he was caught in a sewage tank, have attended the dedication of a statue in his memory.

The sculpture, “Fish On” by Sister Paula Mary Turnbull, shows Mike Cmos Jr. and his daughter, Jennifer, seated on rocks with the father holding a pole as if fishing along a river.

The copper-tubing sculpture was installed earlier this year near the office entrance to the municipal sewage treatment complex where Cmos, a veteran maintenance mechanic, died while trying to contain a leak on May 10, 2004.

Associated Press

Friday Harbor: Reports say Navy harassed orcas

Investigators from the National Marine Fisheries Service are trying to determine whether a Navy helicopter disturbed a group of orcas last week near San Juan Island.

The agency recommends aircraft stay at least 1,000 feet above marine mammals, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act specifies that the whales be left undisturbed, said spokesman Brian Gorman.

Observers saw a gray and red helicopter with the word “NAVY” on the bottom hovering for about 20 to 30 seconds over a group of orcas Sept. 21 on the west side of the island, just outside of Deadman’s Bay, according to a report from the Orca Network.

The Kitsap Sun

Wenatchee: Wildfire suspect asks for photos

A woman who is seeking to withdraw her guilty plea in one of the state’s major forest fires this year says she’s no longer convinced that she started it and wants to see the evidence.

Mary Irene Hayhoe, 46, who had been staying in the Stehekin area for about a year, told The Wenatchee World newspaper she asked three times for photographs and other evidence linking her with the Flick Creek fire and got no response from the Chelan County sheriff’s office.

Late last week Hayhoe asked to withdraw her guilty plea to reckless burning, a gross misdemeanor carrying maximum penalties of a $5,000 fine, a year in prison and firefighting costs that exceed $4 million in the fire, which burned more than 7,800 acres and threatened to force the evacuation of Stehekin.

Associated Press

Oregon: Teen found at high school with guns

Hours after Sheldon High School officials were warned about a threat of violence, a former student was found hiding on campus with two loaded handguns, Eugene police said.

The 15-year-old boy was held late Wednesday at the Serbu Juvenile Justice Center on charges of burglary, felony theft of a firearm and unlawful possession of a firearm, police said.

“We don’t know what was in his head,” Eugene police Sgt. Rich Stronach said. “We’re just glad we were able to take him into custody.”

The boy was arrested Wednesday afternoon after students reported seeing him on the school’s athletic fields. Students had been warned that a former classmate might be armed and on his way.

Associated Press

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