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Wash. Gov. Says Navy Fuel Spills Up

April 18, 1998

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) _ Gov. Gary Locke told the Navy on Friday that he is alarmed at the growing number of fuel spills by warships and disappointed by the lack of cooperation in investigating the spills.

In a letter to Navy Secretary John Dalton, Locke said six spills have dumped 10,000 gallons of fuel into Puget Sound this year. The last involved 400 to 450 gallons of jet fuel Wednesday night, and Locke said the Navy refused to let state inspectors board the USS Carl Vinson, docked at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton.

Locke said he was disappointed with Admiral W.D. Center at the shipyard, who just last year signed an instruction asking Navy captains to cooperate in state spill investigations.

``As governor of the state of Washington, protecting Puget Sound is a critical priority for me and I urge you to make it a high priority for the Navy as well,″ he wrote.

Center said he is always willing to cooperate, but didn’t believe state investigators’ presence on the ship Thursday would be useful.

``We’ll take (officials from the state Department of) Ecology down there, but yesterday we were still trying to find where the spill was coming from. In fact, we still don’t know,″ Center said. The state has no legal authority to board the ships or sanction the Navy.

``All we have is public pressure,″ said Steve Hunter, state spill-response supervisor. ``They’re here, they spill, and they’re gone.″

On Monday, the USS Kitty Hawk logged its third oil spill in Bremerton this year, a situation that would have warranted $90,000 in state fines for a private vessel.

``Initial feedback from the Kitty Hawk spills has been passed to other aircraft carriers to assist in preventing future spills,″ the Navy had said in a prepared statement.

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