Port of Coupeville Harbormaster Long Bechard talks on the phone while pushing a container full of oil spill containment booms at the Coupeville Wharf Friday afternoon. Even though only about two or three quarters of hydraulic steering fluid leaked from the burst hose of a vessel that docked at the wharf, the sheen spread out hundreds of feet as can be seen in the background. Photo by Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

Small spill creates initial concern in Penn Cove

Business owners on the Coupeville Wharf got a mild scare early Friday afternoon when a boater pulled up to purchase gas and noticed a ruptured hose that was spilling hydraulic steering fluid into Penn Cove.

Long Bechard, harbormaster for the Port of Coupeville and owner of Harbor Gift and Kayak Rental, greeted the operator of the 25-foot Boston Whaler, who informed her of the leak.

Bechard said she immediately noticed a sheen forming on the water’s surface that was spreading quickly and called 911. Central Whidbey Fire &Rescue responded to the scene.

She then also reported the spill to the U.S. Coast Guard.

In the end, only about two or three quarts of the fluid had leaked into the cove, the boat owner told Fire Chief Ed Hartin.

But the sheen covered about 500 square feet, reaching the buoy and a sailboat moored east of the wharf.

“It’s not a huge amount but when you put it on the water it spreads and produces a sheen,” Hartin said.

Bechard supplied a boom to fire officials, who placed it in the water at the rear of the vessel.

Hartin said he spoke with the Coast Guard and no other containment measures were deemed necessary.

“Given the small amount released, they’re not terribly concerned,” Hartin said.

“It will likely evaporate and dissipate naturally.”

The boater and his companion were traveling from Tacoma bound for Lopez Island before the mishap.

Photo by Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times Chief Ed Hartin, right, and firefighter Mike Matros with Central Whidbey Fire & Rescue prepare to lay boom around a vessel that was leaking hydraulic steering fluid while moored at the Coupeville Wharf Friday.

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