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Final preparations underway for lifting fishing vessel Aleutian Isle 


SEATTLE -- Response crews working to salvage the fishing vessel Aleutian Isle successfully rigged all  required cables to lift the vessel out of the water and place on a barge near Sunset Point on San Juan Island Friday.    The 58-foot fishing vessel spent over a month under 200 feet of water in Haro Strait, after it sank onAug. 13 off the west side of San Juan Island, Washington.  The exact date and time of the imminent lift depends on tide, current, and onscene weather conditions.In preparation, the Unified Command is executing a pollution mitigation strategy to minimize fuelleaks. Dive crews already plugged all known fuel vents and secured all valves, but it is likely that therewill be sheening visible during the lift operations from fuel coming free that was trapped in the vessel.    It is difficult to predict how much fuel might come out. The anticipated amount could cause a moderatesheen, but not enough to cause significant environmental risk. Regardless, preparations are being madefor a much larger discharge.    It is important to remember that even small quantities of diesel fuel spread quickly, and unlike heavieroils, diesel can be very difficult to recover. Diesel fuel vaporizes quickly, which causes it to stay in theenvironment for less time than other fuels. The goal is to prevent any spilling, however, experts andextensive resources are being used and ready to respond to any size release.     Currently, 7,300 feet of boom are already deployed in geographically sensitive areas with much more onstand-by. Aerial surveys are done multiple times daily, and equipment like skimmers are available todeploy. Wildlife monitoring crews such as Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Technique (SCAT) teamscontinue to patrol ecologically sensitive areas and whale deterrence teams are ready to deploy if anyspecies of whale come near the response. Additional teams will be on the water to look for wildlife anddeter birds away from any sheening as well as community air monitoring.  Once the boat is lifted, it will be placed on a barge that is lined with protective barriers to preventadditional pollution, and the barge will be fully boomed as an additional precaution. Once secured, therecovered vessel will be barged to a mainland facility for assessment.  The 1,000-yard safety zone continues to be in-place until Sept. 26. Boaters who violate the safetyzone and cause severe wakes endanger response personnel. Unlawfully entering the safety zone canimpede the operation of heavy equipment. This complicated phase of recovery, working in extremedepths, requires optimal environmental conditions and tidal currents conducive for raising the vessel.   To contact the U.S. Coast Guard directly reach out on VHF marine-band radio channel 16. Personsviolating the safety zone can receive a civil penalty. The Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) around theAleutian Isle wreck site has been extended until Oct. 15. This TFR is in effect for both manned andunmanned aircraft. Response crews are working under very challenging conditions and aircraft can be adistraction.  If the public sees uncontained sheening, please call the National Response Center at: 800-424-8802. Ifyou encounter oiled wildlife, please contact 800-22-BIRDS.  #AleutianIsle  Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound   Washington Department of Ecology   NOAA Fisheries Service  San Juan County Office of Emergency Management   Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife