Coast Guard oversees pollution response near submerged tugboat in Newport News, Virginia

Pollution responders adjust absorbent pads around the site of the partially submerged tugboat Bourne on Skiffes Creek in Newport News, Virginia, Jan. 22, 2018. The Coast Guard is overseeing the cleanup of an estimated 5 to 10 gallons of motor oil discharged by the tugboat. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Pollution responders adjust absorbent pads around the site of the partially submerged tugboat Bourne on Skiffes Creek in Newport News, Virginia, Jan. 22, 2018. T (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — A Coast Guard pollution response team is overseeing oil spill response activities Wednesday, near a partially submerged tugboat on Skiffes Creek, north of Fort Eustis.

A passing tugboat captain contacted watchstanders Saturday at the Coast Guard Sector Hampton Road’s Command Center, to report the moored, partially submerged, 100-foot tugboat, Bourne, which was discharging black oil.

The Coast Guard pollution response team and the Newport News Hazardous Materials Team responded to survey the scene and deploy boom Saturday night.

It is estimated that the Bourne has a fuel capacity of approximately 21,000 gallons and discharged approximately 5 to 10 gallons of motor oil. The Coast Guard, the Newport News HAZMAT team and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management deployed sorbent pads and boom Saturday and Sunday. It is unknown how much fuel was on board when the tugboat submerged.

The Coast Guard was unable to contact the owner of the vessel. The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund was opened to pay for response efforts.

An oil spill response organization has been contracted to conduct the cleanup operations, which will include removing the remaining oil in the tug’s tanks.

The Coast Guard issued a safety marine information broadcast to encourage mariners to remain clear of the waterway near the site until operations have been completed.

“We will thoroughly monitor cleanup operations,” said Lt. j.g. Stasia Ellis, a marine environmental response chief at Sector Hampton Roads. “The Coast Guard’s main concern is ensuring minimal impact to the environment and maximum safety to the local boating community.”

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