An approximately 26-foot-long sunken boat leaking diesel fuel was discovered in the Damariscotta River in Newcastle about 100 feet from several oyster farms the morning of Friday, June 25.
Chris Dickinson, of Norumbega Oyster, found the boat and notified interim Newcastle Fire Chief Casey Stevens and the Newcastle Fire Department was dispatched by Lincoln County Communications Center at 7:17 a.m. The Damariscotta Fire Department was called shortly after to respond with a boat and more oil booms to contain the diesel spill.
Members of the Newcastle and Damariscotta fire departments cast off from the Damariscotta town landing and rode about 1 1/2 miles downriver with oil booms to contain the spill and prevent it from contaminating oysters. The scene was cleared at 10:17 a.m.
“Damariscotta did a great job helping with their boat and some extra oil booms. We really appreciate their help,” Stevens said.
He also said that workers from Norumbega were a great help in containing the spill and provided divers who were able to plug the vent on the fuel tank where the fuel was leaking from.
Kellie Peters, co-owner of Norumbega Oyster Inc., said that the oyster farming crew “dropped everything” to help firefighters contain the spill.
Jeff Nichols, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Marine Resources, said the area was closed for shellfish harvesting through Monday, June 28. The ban was lifted Monday after tests confirmed there was no contamination.
Oysters from the farms close to the spill were cleared on Monday as well, Nichols said in an email on Tuesday, June 29.
The boat is owned by Wray Fitch, of Newcastle, Nichols said.
During a phone interview on Wednesday, June 30, Fitch said the boat was recovered the next day by a salvage company using flotation devices. He said he does not yet know what caused the boat to sink.
Stevens said the Maine Department of Environmental Protection investigated the diesel spill and said that firefighters did a good job of containing it.