COUPEVILLE, Wash. -- Investigators believe somebody set the fire that caused the Deep Sea to sink and leak oil in Whidbey Island's Penn Cove.
For months agencies have refused to confirm it was a suspected case of arson, and they still do. But KING 5 has learned two federal agencies have launched criminal investigations into the case.
The boat ride to the Penn Cove Shellfish mussel rafts is a lot more pleasant these days. Gone are the heavy spring rains and the rotting fishing boat that caught fire and sank in the cove last May.
When the fishing boat Deep Sea burned and went down, it release oil that forced the closure of mussel harvests for Penn Cove Shellfish.
I've tried to let go of some of the anger and things I was going through at that time, said Ian Jefferds, general manager of Penn Cove Shellfish.
Workers at Penn Cove Shellfish are harvesting mussels as fast as they can, but they cannot make up for the lost time, income and reputation caused the sinking of the Deep Sea.
It was damaging, said Jefferds. I mean I am still dealing with a wholesaler in Seattle whose orders are down probably 90 percent because they started bringing in another product.
King County arson investigators got a chance to inspect the wreckage of the Deep Sea after it was raised and towed to Seattle. They turned their findings over the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which funded the investigation.
The DNR has refused several requests to release the findings of the report, saying it was under pressure by federal prosecutors to keep a lid on it. But KING 5 has learned through multiple sources that both the EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard are actively investigating the fire and sinking of the boat.
And if someone is convicted, Jefferds has something to say to them.
I'd say they have a big bill waiting for them, said Jefferds.
Until then, it's back to business as usual on the mussel farm.
Both the EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard have refused to comment on the investigation.
KING5's Gary Chittim contributed to this report.