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Fiery S. Oregon Coast Shipwreck Under Cleanup Efforts Now

Published 05/11/2019 at 6:53 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Fiery S. Oregon Coast Shipwreck Under Cleanup Efforts Now

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(Bandon, Oregon) – A small shipwreck has created a large stir on the southern Oregon coast. Now, the cleanup begins after a fiery crash onto the sand. (Photos courtesy Oregon Parks and Recreation Department).

On May 2, a 64-foot fishing vessel out of Washington called the Ann Kathleen caught fire off the southern Oregon coast, causing all crew to abandon the craft. They were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. The vessel made landfall on a beach just south of Bandon, still on fire and drawing responses from both federal and state agencies.

Within 24 hours the ship was no longer burning, and teams from the U.S. Coast Guard, local fire department, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality were onsite at the beach near Floras Lake to evaluate the site for toxic materials and develop any necessary response plan to protect the beach and nearby shorebird nesting area. The area is designated for recovery of the western snowy plover and already under some restrictions to beachgoers.

Shortly after, some 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel were removed from the fuel tanks. Now, however, the serious cleanup of the shipwreck begins, which will cut off visitor parking and boat ramp access at Boice-Cope County Park a few miles to the south of the site.

Currently a team from several entities is removing as much of the ship’s remains as possible, work that is expected to go on for a few days. It’s quite possible, according to Oregon State Parks and Recreation (OPRD), that not all parts of the craft will be removed.

“Significant portions of the hull, mast, and mechanical components are on the beach,” OPRD said. “Sand has already started to accumulate around the wreckage, requiring excavation before the wreck can be cut up and airlifted by helicopter to the Cape Blanco Airport eight miles south. The work is being funded by the ship’s insurer. Some portion of the wreck may be left buried deep on the shore if conditions make removal too difficult.”

The teams working on the cleanup are the insurer, Coquille Indian Tribe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and Global Dive and Salvage, Inc. out of Seattle.

State officials will be keep a close eye on the federally-protected western snowy plover bird, as work continues, as well as looking at other sensitive aspects of the beach. OPRD said the active nests of the endangered bird are cause for a swift and urgent response.

The shipwreck is not easily accessible, sitting several miles from any developed beach access, and OPRD said it does not receive many visitors this time of year. The area is so sensitive that OPRD asked that no members of the media venture down there, instead providing its own array of photos.

“Anyone visiting should give the work site a wide berth, watch for vehicles on the beach, and respect the plover nesting area by sticking to the wet sand,” OPRD said.

More on the plover can be found at https://www.oregon.gov/oprd/NATRES/Pages/plover.aspx .

There are reports of some small and light debris scattered over several miles south of the wreck. Oregon coast visitors are asked to help by carrying trash bags and gloves to the area (south of the designated plover nesting section) and pick up some of the debris.

There were no injuries in the incident with the Ann Kathleen, which was based out of Westport on the Washington coast. The cause of the fire aboard the primarily fiberglass ship is still unknown.

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