A fuel spill in the Santa Barbara Harbor yesterday morning left gallons of fuel in the water and a local charter boat company facing at least one citation from local authorities.

At approximately 8:15 a.m., the Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol received a phone call informing them of a large amount of boat fuel in the harbor’s Marina 4, Harbor Patrol Supervisor Steve McCullough said. He said Harbor Patrol officers contacted the Coast Guard, which subsequently took charge of the situation and estimated that approximately 40 gallons of fuel was pumped into the harbor during the spill.

After investigating the incident, Harbor Patrol officers received a call from Channel Cat Charters, a Santa Barbara-based charter company, ok and whale-watching boat company, informing them that one of their vessels was responsible for the incident. The charter company was cited for contaminating the harbor, which McCullough said would probably be cleared of the spilled fuel by Wednesday evening.

“They’re actually cleaning it up now and they put absorbent pads and other material in the water, and they’re cleaning up the rocks and stuff,” McCullough said. “It’s probably dissipating with the wind and the warm weather and all of that, in addition to the cleaning up.”

McCullough said the spill occurred after a leaking fuel tank contaminated a bilge pump – responsible for pumping excess water over the side of boats – on one of Channel Cat Charters’ vessels. Fuel from the faulty tank leaked into the pipes, which then pumped that fuel into the harbor.

McCullough said he does not know if the spill will affect the area’s wildlife. He said the California Dept. of Fish and Game is currently working to assess the spill’s impact on the animals living in the harbor.

Representatives from the California Dept. of Fish and Game could not be reached for comment.

McCullough said Channel Cat Charters could be facing legal action from agencies other than the Harbor Patrol.

“[Channel Cat Charters] was issued a citation [by the Harbor Patrol] for discharging contaminants into the harbor, and they’ll probably go to court and pay a fine for that,” McCullough said. “I’m certain that other agencies like the Coast Guard and the Department of Fish and Game will have their own violations that they may issue.”

A charter agent at Channel Cat Charters said the company would not comment on the incident.