Two companies responsible for a 2012 oil spill in Tacoma’s Hylebos Waterway have paid their fines and will create a salt marsh to increase habitat for fish.
The state Department of Ecology announced Thursday that the penalty for Tacoma Industrial Properties and RV Associates was dropped to $17,000 from $24,800 after the companies agreed to create a salt marsh near the site of the spill.
About 25 gallons of oil spilled into the waterway June 21, 2012, while crews dismantled the Hauff Barge, a derelict ship moored for years near Tacoma Industrial Properties.
The spill covered 23 acres of waterway — the size of about 17 football fields.
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Ecology officials said Tacoma Industrial Properties hired Port Orchard-based RV Associates to dismantle the barge but did not have the proper permits.
Although the company obtained a permit to demolish a concrete grain storage facility and use the crushed concrete to pave a parking area, the permit did not authorize deconstructing the Hauff Barge.
The companies originally were fined $24,800.
Ecology reduced that amount after the companies agreed not to appeal the decision or file a lawsuit.
“This agreement is an effective alternative to litigation,” said Rich Doenges, a water quality section manager with Ecology. “Directing penalty dollars to create salt march habitat will be a lasting improvement to the ecological health of the Hylebos.”
Tacoma Industrial Properties and RV Associates paid $5,000 in cash and will use the rest of the penalty money to create the salt marsh. The project will begin next summer.
The Hylebos Waterway leads to Commencement Bay and is fed by Hylebos Creek, which has chinook, coho, pink and chum salmon runs.
Before this incident, the Hauff Barge was believed responsible for up to 20 complaints about an oil sheen on the waterway, according to Ecology.
In November 2008, the U.S. Coast Guard hired a diving contractor to plug vents and pipes on the barge and pump off pockets of oil. That incident amounted to more than $12,000 in fines.