Coast Guard Responds to Oil Spill in Savannah River

SAVANNAH, Ga – The Coast Guard responded to a report of an oil spill in the Savannah River Thursday afternoon.

An oil sheen was spotted near downtown Savannah and reported to Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit (MSU) Savannah at approximately 11:30 a.m. Two MSU Savannah response teams, an Air Station Savannah helicopter and a Coast Guard Auxiliary patrol craft were dispatched to investigate the report. The helicopter sighted two areas of oil sheen and directed Coast Guard personnel to those locations for further investigation. The Coast Guard Auxiliary patrol craft assisted in transporting Coast Guard personnel on the river.

Once on scene, members of the response team searched for potential sources of the pollution and conducted an assessment of the Savannah River for environmental impacts. A source of the spill was not immediately apparent, however samples of the spill from potential sources were collected and will be analyzed to determine if there is a match determine who may responsible for the oil spill.

Coast Guard, as well as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel, conducted surveys of the Savannah River to determine if the oil impacted the banks of the river. One location up river from Fort Jackson, Ga., was found to have been impacted by approximately 15 to 20 gallons of oil. Because a responsible party could not be identified, the Coast Guard contracted an oil spill removal organization and had 500 feet of oil containment boom placed along the shore to contain and collect the oil. The boom is being left out overnight and the Coast Guard is asking mariners to minimize any wake produced by their vessel if they transit between markers 53 and 56. Other areas along the Savannah River, including Fort Jackson, were not impacted. There were no observations of oiled wildlife.

Coast Guard MSU Savannah response teams will return tomorrow to reassess the situation and will continue to coordinate response operations with officials from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

The Coast Guard encourages any person who observes oil in the water to contact the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 to make an official report.

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