Island Home spills fuel, misses trips

Island Home
File photo by Susan Safford

The Steamship Authority’s (SSA) Island Home ferry missed two trips Monday morning when an overfilled emergency generator fuel tank leaked a small amount of diesel fuel into Vineyard Haven Harbor.

The incident began when the Island Home took on fuel for its emergency generator fuel tank Monday morning while berthed in Woods Hole, according to Wayne Lamson, SSA general manager. The fueling operation takes place every three to six months, he said.

Mr. Lamson said there was apparently debris in the check valve that under normal circumstances should stop the flow of fuel once the tank is filled. As a result, fuel spilled from an overflow vent onto the deck. The spill was not discovered until the boat was in Vineyard Haven Harbor prior to a 9:30 am departure.

Mr. Lamson said the spill was relatively minor in nature however, “about a cup full”, of diesel fuel ran off the deck into the harbor. Following protocol, the SSA notified the fire department, harbormaster, Coast Guard and Department of Environmental Protection, he said.

Mr. Lamson said that by the time all the local, state and federal agencies signed off, the ferry was unable to complete its 9:30 am departure and its 10:45 am return. The Island Home returned to scheduled service with a noon departure from Vineyard Haven.

Tisbury fire chief John Schilling responded to the call. Mr. Schilling described the incident as “a minor fuel leak.” He said the crew did a very good job cleaning up, and the only evidence of any spill was a slight sheen on the water.