Transcript: Navy comments at spill press conference

Captain Tom Zwolfer, Naval Base Kitsap Commanding Officer
Unified Commander, NBK oily waste spill response

“Good afternoon. Thank you for coming. I am Tom Zwolfer, the commanding officer for Naval Base Kitsap. I would like to describe the sequence of events that brought us together here today, and then give our partner agency representatives an opportunity to speak, before we answer any questions.

“First, I want to say that we deeply regret the concern this event has caused the community.

“Due to an equipment failure on Monday, the Navy had an approximate 2,000-gallon oily waste spill at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor. In accordance with the Northwest Area Contingency Plan, our unified-command agencies responded. We are committed to continue to work together to manage this spill, and to find out exactly what happened so that we can improve our operations in the future.

“On Monday afternoon, there was a spill at the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor waterfront due to an equipment failure. Specifically, an electrical short in both of our pumps caused the pump to quit working, causing an overflow onto the pier and into the water.

“When the overflow was discovered, pumping was ceased and clean-up efforts began with trained personnel from Navy Port Operations. Using all available assets, clean-up operations continued until dark and resumed again yesterday using on-water oil recovery vessels and absorbent pads/towels. Shortly after the spill was discovered, it was estimated, based upon an initial observation of the cause that approximately 150 gallons of Ship Overboard Discharge, which is oily waste, spilled onto the Delta Pier and into Hood Canal. The cleanup efforts continued until dark and resumed again Tuesday morning.

“Upon further evaluation yesterday morning, and based on overflights and reports from shore observers, it was determined the spill was larger than the original estimate of 150 gallons. We now estimate it to be approximately 2,000 gallons of the oil and water mix. We are continuing to assess the shoreline near the source of the spill and working our way north for any potential effects. We are actively working to recover oily water from the spill area, and we are inspecting similar pump systems on base to make sure that they function safely. We have no identified reports or siting of impacts to wildlife and our people will continue to monitor this closely. We are committed to protecting the environment and we need to let the investigation continue so that we can determine what happened and how to prevent future occurrences like this from happening again.

“We will continue to work together with our Northwest Area Contingency Plan partners, including the Coast Guard and the Washington State Department of Ecology and others, to adequately manage this spill. This cleanup is a unified effort.

“My family and I live in this community, and we’re appreciative and proud of the positive and enduring relationship that the people of Western Washington have with the U.S. Navy. Again, I regret the concern that this has caused, and I’m committing to maintaining and improving our record of environmental stewardship.”

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