Wash. closes Penn Cove shellfish harvesting

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WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. (AP) -- The Washington state Health Department has temporarily closed Whidbey Island's Penn Cove to all shellfish harvesting due to a diesel spill from a sunken fishing boat.

The Coast Guard said Tuesday that divers have plugged a vent on the boat that was leaking two gallons of fuel per minute. The agency says 2,100 gallons of diesel have been recovered.

Skimmers and absorbent booms have been deployed by a clean-up contractor.

The Health Department notes that Penn Cove Shellfish voluntarily stopped harvesting on Sunday before any diesel reached its shellfish. Since then, department spokeswoman Kate Lynch says a much larger volume of diesel has spilled, producing a sheen over the commercial operation.

All commercial and recreational shellfish harvesting in the cove has been closed. The Health Department will test shellfish to confirm they're safe before reopening the area.

The 128-foot derelict fishing boat caught fire Saturday and sank Sunday.