SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard Incident Management pollution responders and contracted cleanup crews completed the removal of diesel and oiled debris, Tuesday, from a 40-foot derelict modified low-profile vessel washed ashore on Mona Island, Puerto Rico.
Due to the potential impacts to the water and the environment, the Coast Guard activated the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and contracted Resolve Marine as the oil spill removal organization for this case. Currently, clean-up efforts are estimated to be over $190,000 dollars.
“This is a complex operation due to the remote location, incoming storms and the sensitive environmental areas and habitat on Mona Island,” said Lt. Cmdr. Ray Lopez, Sector San Juan Incident Management Division chief. “We appreciate the communication and close collaboration between responding local and federal agencies, the oil spill removal organization, and Coast Guard personnel overseeing the response. These partnerships were instrumental in resolving this oil pollution threat to protect the pristine waters, environment and sensitive habitat of this highly valuable natural reserve.”
Coast Guard watch standers at Sector San Juan received a communication, at 7:53 a.m. Thursday, from Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources personnel on Mona Island, who reported the vessel grounding on Playa Mujeres on the southwestern part of the island. The reporting source further informed of fuel leaking and a strong odor of diesel coming from the vessel, and that an undetermined number of coastal invertebrates in the area had died from fuel pooled on the rocks. The beaches in the affected area are a designated critical habitat for the Hawksbill Sea turtle.
Watch standers conducted interagency notifications and coordinated an aerial assessment of the incident location that was carried out by the aircrew of MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Borinquen.
Resolve Marine crews staged equipment and personnel on Mona Island during the weekend to conduct the fuel removal operation, which resulted in the recovery of approximately 300 gallons of diesel, oily water waste and two cubic yards of oiled debris from the vessel's fuel tanks and interior.
Coast Guard pollution responders are coordinating with Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and Fish and Wildlife Service personnel to identify any further impacts to the environment and wildlife.
The Coast Guard is investigating the origin and the circumstances that led to this derelict vessel washing ashore on Mona Island.
People looking to report oil pollution in the water may contact the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.