News: UPDATE: Coast Guard, state and local agencies monitor response, removal operations underway in Mona Island, Puerto Rico
Story by Chief Petty Officer Paul Roszkowski
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board, and various other federal, state and local response personnel were on scene on the South shore of Mona Island, Puerto Rico Tuesday to stage equipment in preparation for the removal of about 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel from the cargo freighter Jireh, Wednesday, June 27.
Response crews conducted a second damage assessment of the 185-foot grounded vessel Tuesday and verified it was sound enough for pollution responders to commence removal of the diesel fuel. Salvage teams also conducted assessments to determine appropriate plans to refloat the vessel, while maintaining minimal threat to the environment.
The cargo freighter is secured and 800-feet of boom is currently deployed around the ship to contain any spill during diesel fuel removal operations.
Wednesday’s response activities include deploying approximately 100-feet of containment boom around the 35-foot vessel staged to receive the diesel off the grounded freighter so there is minimal impact to the environment. Diesel fuel and oily water mixture removed off the vessel will be pumped into 250 gallon totes, transferred to a 6,600 gallon capacity ISO tank container and transported to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico for final disposal at Deer Park Incineration in Houston.
Response crews are also working to remove oiled cargo including mangoes, water bottles, cinder blocks, grain, bags of horse feed, and carbonated drinks.
“We will work to remove the oil as quickly as we can. We know it’s hurricane season and we want to make this response efficient and safe because of the cargo onboard and the various endangered species in the immediate area,” said Lt. Kristen Preble, operations section chief to the response.
NOAA divers are conducting an environmental assessment survey, 300-feet out from the vessel, to remove and transplant any adversely affected coral colonies or endangered species prior to removing the vessel.
Response crews currently on scene are the Coast Guard Cutter Reef Shark, an 87-foot Coastal Patrol Boat homeported in San Juan; Punta Borinquen, a 95-foot motor vessel; Orca II, a 45-foot motor vessel; Caribe Lifter, a 6,500-ton lifting capacity barge; and Don Raul and Clean Harbors, 30-foot landing crafts units.
Approximately 70 personnel from the Unified Command are responding to the vessel aground.
“Our response to the grounded vessel has made Coast Guard Sector San Juan a little busier; however, none of our other missions have been affected. We are here to protect the people of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and continue to carry out our Coast Guard mission to protect those on the sea, to protect our nation from the threats that come from the sea and, today, we are working to protect the sea itself,” said Capt. Drew Pearson, Sector Commander, Coast Guard Sector San Juan.
The Unified Command consists of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board, and various other federal, state and local agencies.
The cause of grounding is unknown and is under investigation by the Coast Guard.
This work, UPDATE: Coast Guard, state and local agencies monitor response, removal operations underway in Mona Island, Puerto Rico, by CPO Paul Roszkowski, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.