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Press Release | Aug. 11, 2023

Coast Guard San Juan crews conclude investigation, response to reports of pollution in Cabo Rojo

Seventh Coast Guard District - 305-415-6680

MIAMI — Coast Guard Sector San Juan concluded pollution mitigation efforts and an investigation of the grounded fishing vessel G. Saba, in Puerto Real, Cabo Rojo, Monday.

Operations are concluded with no evidence of additional fuel for future potential discharge, recoverable product, or threat to the marine environment.

On July 30, 2023, Sector San Juan’s Incident Management Division in coordination with the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resource, Puerto Rico Joint Forces for Rapid Action, and NOAA conducted a preliminary investigation of a sheen reported in Puerto Real, Cabo Rojo. 

The source of the suspected diesel discharge was determined to be a landing craft utility vessel moored alongside the fishing vessel G. Saba. Abandoned in the 1990s and assessed for NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program in 2002, the vessel contained no cargo or pollutants, but there was concern that it might be used as an illegal dumping site. 

Preliminary assessments conducted from the vessels did not reveal any remaining product, but the coral attached to the vessel paused the response actions until the species could be identified. In an effort to ensure no protected or sensitive species were damaged by response actions, the Coast Guard crew conducted consultations with Puerto Rico and Federal resource trustees. 

On August 1, 2023, the Federal On-Scene Coordinator Representative (FOSCR) opened the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to hire Clean Harbors, an Oil Spill Removal Organization, to assess the vessel and develop a plan to remove any potential pollution from the vessel. 

On August 2, 2023, the Coast Guard, Clean Harbors, and NOAA crewmembers returned to the site, discovering no endangered or threatened coral present on the hull of the vessel, and approved the Oil Spill Removal Organization investigation. Clean Harbors’ divers assessed the vessel and found no continuous discharge, engines, or cargo tanks, but two submerged tanks that may have been potential sources. Clean Harbors submitted their assessment report and recommendations for approval by the FOSCR. 

With the FOSCR’s approval to return to the vessel on August 7, 2023, the Coast Guard crew and Clean Harbors members completed operations to remove any remaining potential environmental threat and ensure that the vessel is no longer a candidate for illegal dumping. 

“Cases like this illustrate just how important our partnerships are here in Puerto Rico,” said Chief Warrant Officer Jamie Testa, Sector San Juan IMD. “These joint operations provide the ability to collaborate to ensure all response actions take into account the best interests of the ecosystem and neighboring communities, ensuring the most successful outcome possible.”

Media with questions may contact Coast Guard Seventh District public affairs at (305) 415-6680, or in writing at

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