In an accident that threatened the fragile ecosystem of Humboldt Bay, a fuel barge loaded with 1.68 million gallons of diesel collided with the South Jetty last month, damaging but not puncturing the vessel’s outer steel hull. 

The United States Coast Guard has opened an investigation into the June 20 incident, and Petty Officer Andrew Kistner confirmed that it did not result in a fuel spill. 

Leroy Zerlang, chair of the Humboldt Harbor Safety Committee, said that was a huge relief. 

“There was no spill, no loss of product — that was the important thing,” he told the Outpost in a phone interview earlier today. Zerlang used blunt language to convey the stakes of such an accident: “If something happened, this bay would have been fucked.”

Jennifer Kalt, executive director of environmental nonprofit Humboldt Baykeeper, agreed. 

“Fortunately, the barges have double hulls, but this is another reason to get off of fossil fuels as soon as we can — along with the planet being on fire,” Kalt said. “It’s a huge risk to Humboldt Bay.”

Recalling the 5,000-gallon oil spill that temporarily closed Humboldt Bay in 1997, Kalt added that it’s important for the community to have a good understanding of the plans in place for cleaning up a spill, should one occur. 

Read More