• North Sound neighbors upset as second derelict vessel sinks

    By: Deborah Horne

    Updated:

    Neighbors in the North Sound are angry after the second of two derelict boats sank in an inlet off Lummi Bay.

    They say a bad situation has only gotten worse because no one listened to their concerns.

    The boats are near the Sandy Point Marina. 

    Residents have been fighting to have these boats removed for years.

    Tribe members at the Lummi Reservation have worked for years to get rid of these vessels. They are mostly underwater and that poses an environmental hazard.

    Workers hired by the U.S. Coast Guard were putting the finishing touches on the second set of absorbent material placed around the sinking boat. 

    It has been leaking oil into the water since it began to sink last Thursday.

    "We're putting up what we call a hard containment boom," said Coast Guard Lt. Josh McElhaney. "So hopefully, that will help keep this spill contained to a small area."

    Watching it all at a respectful distance is Howard Gilbert. 

    "It's a community eyesore," he said.

    His neighbors have been fighting to have the owner remove these derelict vessels since before Gilbert moved here. The first boat sank in 2016.

    Gilbert was the first to realize the second boat might be following suit.

    "And we knew it would happen," he said. "I just didn't know when. And I thought it would go straight down. But it tipped towards mine. So I moved my boat over, thinking its going to crush my boat and my dock."

    Then he sighed deeply. "It's a nightmare."

    AIts a nightmare, too, for officials of the Lummi nation who say they, too, want the vessels moved.

    "And we have contacted the owner," said Merle Jefferson, head of the Lummi Tribe's Department of Natural Resources. "We gave them letters. We gave them fines. And so we're waiting for them for them to comply. If they don't comply, we'll have to pursue court action."

    As a seal popped its head up out of the water, it was a reminder the humans may not be the only ones upset about this.

    "It's just hideous," Gilbert said. "And now this is going to be the same thing with this one, so., yuck."

    The Coast Guard plans to monitor the boats for any environmental damage this spill might cause. 

    And the final arbiter in all of this might be the state. Officials say they are aware of these boats. But they are not in the way and so are not the highest priority.

    So they may still be there for a while.

     


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