Minor oil spill requires cleanup in Oak Bluffs Harbor

Work crews used oil booms and absorbent mats to clean up the spill. — Photo by Steve Myrick

Updated 10:25 am Thursday, November 20, 2013

A mishap aboard a local fishing boat caused a minor oil spill in Oak Bluffs harbor Wednesday afternoon.

An automatic bilge pump aboard the vessel Helen L pumped an estimated four to eight gallons of engine oil into the harbor. The boat was tied up at Church’s pier while the crew took some time off.

“Fortunately, it was only a little, four or five gallons,” said Tim Walsh, the boat owner and captain. “We got to it pretty quick.”

Portable booms were deployed around the vessel, and around a small area off the pier where the oil gathered. Work crews soaked up the oil with absorbent pads.

Frank Corporation, a New Bedford environmental firm, was assigned by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to clean up the spill.

U.S. Coast Guard personnel also responded. The Coast Guard and state regulators will determine whether any environmental damage warrants a fine or other sanctions.

The harbor is closed to shellfishing until further notice, according to the town web site.