Hundreds of Gallons of Diesel Spills into Lake Union from Yacht

According to the Washington Department of Ecology, diesel oil spilled from a 74-foot yacht on Tuesday, July 19th. Workers noticed oil on the water at approximately 6:30 a.m. on the morning of the spill, reported it to authorities, and deployed an oil spill containment boom.

“The amount spilled and the cause of the spill remain under investigation. and it appears that fuel leaked from at least one of four tanks on board into the vessel bilge, activating the bilge pump and discharging fuel overboard,” the Department of Ecology’s website states.

KOMO News reported that the fuel tanks had only just been filled on Monday, and by Tuesday morning they were completely empty. An estimated 630 gallons of diesel fuel had leaked into the water.

There was a strong odor of diesel, but vapors were monitored well below the level of risk for fire or explosion.

In addition to the State’s Department of Ecology, Seattle Public Utilities and the U.S. Coast Guard have formed a unified command to respond to and clean up the spill. “The owner has hired spill response contractors who are acting under the agencies’ oversight.”

Cleanup efforts included removal of the diesel from the surface of the water, as well as hand cleaning under docks and along the shoreline. Materials such as containment booms, oil-absorption materials, vacuum trucks, and other vessels, equipment and vehicles have been used to support efforts to clean up after the spill.

As of 5 p.m. on July 20th, the Department of Ecology reported that all oil that could be recovered from the water and shore structures had been removed. “Some sheen may be visible on the water, a layer of oil too thin to recover, that will dissipate in the next day or so… Ecology crews are assessing environmental effects. There have been no reports of oiled wildlife.”

Investigation as to the cause of the fuel spill continues.

Featured photo source: KomoNews.com

Landing Strip on Lake Union Could Increase Seaplane and Boater Safety

With ever-increasing urban growth in Seattle, even the city’s bodies of water are becoming congested. Lake Union has become a liquefied freeway afloat with boats, paddleboards, kayaks and seaplanes with no lanes or signals. The safety hazards associated with this amount of traffic on the lake have sparked a proposal for a seaplane landing strip.

Komo 4 News reports that Kenmore Air president Todd Banks is waiting for government approval on his proposal, which would designate a takeoff and landing strip on Lake Union with floating buoys. These markers would light up and flash during a takeoff or landing, activated by the pilot from the cockpit. This signal would alert boaters to stay clear of the area. According to the article, the system would cost about $80,000.

Currently, seaplane pilots must search for a clear area on Lake Union to navigate seaplanes. There are up to 50 take offs and 50 landings per day, according to Komo 4 News. A clearly marked runway would eliminate the crossing of paths with boaters or jet skiers, an increasing safety hazard as the lake gets busier for the summer.

There is no timeline for the implementation of the proposed seaplane landing strips. According to Komo 4 News, the City of Seattle is in the process of getting necessary permits from agencies such as the Coast Guard to continue pushing forward on this project.

Be safe out there, Seattle!

Featured photo found here

Green Streets: New Green Bike Lanes Raise Awareness of Bicyclists

Seattle has recently become greener. In an effort to raise drivers’ awareness of bicyclists on the road, he city’s first green-colored bike lanes have recently been installed in two locations. The existing bike lanes were transformed to green rather than the same pavement color at the points where the bicycle and car lanes cross.

In South Lake Union, a new green bike lane has been installed on Dexter Ave. N. just north of Denny Way. At this section, drivers turning right must cut across the bike lane going straight. The second green lane is on E. Greenlake Way N. just north of 50th Street in a triangular corner next to the right-turn lane where motorists might not expect to encounter bikers. The material used in these bike lanes is a green construction substance that is glued onto the concrete. It has been tested by SDOT and found to be reliable, durable, and non-slippery for bicyclists. About 12 more green bike lanes are expected to be installed throughout the city in the next three years. These distinctive paths for bikers are part of SDOT’s goal to reduce the rate of biker/driver collisions by one third between 2007 and 2017.

Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan states “A bikeable city is one where people ride bicycles because it is a convenient, fun, safe, and healthy choice. It is a city in which people of all ages and abilities bicycle for any trip purpose. The Seattle Bicycle Master Plan (BMP) aspires to encourage and accommodate more people to ride a bicycle. The BMP provides a blueprint to make it easier to decide to ride a bicycle. The vision of the BMP, which signifies an important shift in the way Seattle will accommodate people riding a bicycle, is ‘Riding a bicycle is a comfortable and integral part of daily life in Seattle for people of all ages and abilities.’”

Click here to see Seattle’s bike map in its entirety.

Featured photo via @Knotis

Update On Construction Impacts and Solutions In SLU

Just as the lane configurations on Mercer Street seem to change daily, the Seattle Department of Transportation is constantly reevaluating what can be done to reduce gridlock for drivers and headaches for pedestrians in South Lake Union and Lower Queen Anne, an area experiencing unprecedented growth. After implementing several changes this fall, SDOT continues to facilitate communication among construction companies and community members as part of its Construction Hub Coordination Program.

Anyone who has spent time sitting in their car on Mercer Street, watching traffic lights cycle through green and back to red without moving an inch, knows that improving traffic flow on the main thoroughfare is a high priority for the neighborhood. With input from the South Lake Union Community Council, SDOT has made the following changes:

  • Traffic signal at 5th Avenue North and Mercer Street has been reconfigured to allow flow of both eastbound and westbound traffic simultaneously.
  • Revised signal at Queen Anne Ave. North and Roy Street to prevent vehicles from blocking the crosswalk.
  • Left-turn-signal time extended at Fairview Avenue North and Mercer Street.
  • Rapid Ride D Line bus given priority signal.
  • New signal timing for special events at Seattle Center.
  • Facilitated coordination between construction companies to ensure that sidewalks aren’t closed on both sides of any street, improving access for pedestrians.

While the Mercer corridor reconfiguration project is expected to be completed in mid 2015, construction in booming South Lake Union shows no signs of letting up, meaning your input will be as important as ever. Any questions or feedback can be submitted to the Construction Hub Coordination Program at SDOTConstructionHub@seattle.gov.

September-October Monthly Lake Union Crime Recap

A movie-like chase, wine thief, and water scavenger make up this month’s Lake Union crime recap.

October 13: A rather movie-like chase took place between police and a suspected auto thief around the Lake Union area. Officers responded to suspicious activity at a parking lot, where they found a man lying underneath a pickup truck next to a large gas can. The suspect fled when he saw police approaching, ran to a loading dock, then to another parking lot near Fairview Avenue and Aloha Street. Officers continued their pursuit as the man jumped into the lake. Police talked the man into accepting rescue, and pulled him to shore with a flotation device. He was transported to Harborview Medical Center before being booked into King County Jail for investigation of auto theft.

October 13: Police responded to an apartment in South Lake Union where residents reported a suspect had stolen several bottles of wine from them. When the theft victims went to the man’s apartment to get the wine back, the suspect reportedly pointed a shotgun at one of them. Officers arrested the suspect and booked him into King County Jail for investigation of harassment.

October 7: Police officers arrested a man who was found scavenging inside the building that used to be the Seattle Times headquarters. Owners of a nearby restaurant notified police of their water being cut off, which police found to be due to a suspect stealing copper pipes underneath the space. The suspect was carrying a variety of tools. He was booked into King County Jail for investigation of burglary.