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Press Release | March 21, 2024

Coast Guard updates clean-up efforts for tank 11 diesel spill at the Randolph Harley Power Plant in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

ST THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands — Coast Guard oversight efforts continue, Thursday, for ongoing Virgin Islands and Water and Power Authority (VIWAPA) clean-up operations at the Randolph Harley Power Plant in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, following the tank 11 diesel discharge that occurred at the facility, Oct. 25, 2023.

Since the day of the incident, the original estimates of 33,600 gallons of No. 2 diesel discharged outside tank 11’s secondary containment have been updated and calculated to be over 50,000 gallons.  

The Coast Guard has been communicating and consulting with local government agencies, stakeholders, and partner members from the Caribbean Regional Response Team, including local Department of Natural Resources, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, among others, which are collaborating with the Federal On-Scene Coordinator during this response.

“This is a long-term and complex response which includes several phases and matters that are being resolved with VIWAPA to ensure the most diligent and effective clean-up of the site,” said Capt. Jose E.  Díaz, Coast Guard’s Federal On-Scene Coordinator for the VIWAPA Tank 11 diesel spill.  “As good stewards of the environment, removing this pollution threat is our top priority and should be carried out with the diligence and expedience it requires to ensure the safety of our citizens and the proper remediation of the affected environment.”

Current clean-up operations remain actively focused on the recovery of the subsurface diesel material along the hillsides leading to Lindbergh Bay and Krum Bay, as well as the affected coastal area of Lindbergh Bay.  Presently, clean-up crews continue irrigation tactics utilizing a high-volume low-pressure flow of water to help move the subsurface diesel through seven natural land veins to established collection points from where the diesel is being recovered.  VIWAPA contractors are conducting weekly sampling for the response and management of an established collection system on the Krum Bay side of the site.  Furthermore, Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team personnel provide continuous technical and regulatory compliance consultation to the Federal On-Scene Coordinator and VIWAPA, contractor oversight of collection and recovery activities of diesel free product and contaminated soils on-scene, and monitoring of VIWAPA’s site safety plan, which includes managing air monitoring activities for clean-up crews at the site.

Clean-up operations in the next 30 days include GeoSyntec consultants utilizing Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology to conduct a sub-surface site assessment and plume modeling of the affected terrain to help identify areas of free diesel product and provide recommendations for response recovery strategies.  Once the site assessment is completed, VIWAPA will use the data to execute a drilling strategy to reach and recover the subsurface diesel.

VIWAPA is also working with Coast Guard and other government agencies to finalize a comprehensive Waste Management Plan for the storage, transportation, and disposal of hazardous waste and contaminated materials from the site. The plan will include the proper management of all oily water waste, contaminated vegetation, and response materials that have been utilized to recover the diesel.

The Federal On-Scene Coordinator Representative for the response has also initiated a re-evaluation of potential affected resources as part of an emergency consultation under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act to ensure that all trustees and stakeholders have considered all upcoming operational activities.

Sealife and natural resources identified within Lindbergh and Krum Bays include the Green and Hawksbill sea turtles, Bottlenose dolphins, whales, sea and shore birds, pelagic and reef fish, invertebrates, and benthic habitats.  So far there have been no signs of affected sealife or natural resources, however, responders will continue to monitor.

For media inquiries or further updates media may contact Coast Guard Sector San Juan Public Affairs at 787-510-7923.

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