Crews continue to mitigate pollution threats from vessels displaced by Hurricane Irma

Contractors remove a vessel displaced by Hurricane Irma at Boot Key Harbor City Marina in Marathon, Florida, Oct. 11, 2017. Response crews from the Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency are managing vessel removal operations with a priority placed on vessels leaking fuel or hazardous materials. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class David Weydert.

Contractors remove a vessel displaced by Hurricane Irma at Boot Key Harbor City Marina in Marathon, Florida, Oct. 11, 2017.   U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class David Weydert.

MIAMI – Cleanup efforts and removal operations of displaced vessels are progressing throughout Florida waterways nine weeks after Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys.

The Unified Command for the response—officially titled Emergency Support Function 10 (ESF-10) Florida—consists of leaders from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Currently, 1,767 displaced vessels have been removed from Florida waterways. Approximately 220 people from state and federal agencies are involved in the disaster response.

Responders are prioritizing the removal of vessels based on potential environmental impact.

“ESF-10 response crews are spread across the state focusing on pollution recovery and vessel removal goals set by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission,” said Chris Russell, the EPA Incident Commander for ESF-10. “ESF-10 is supporting the state of Florida and its agencies to help them achieve an efficient, well-coordinated response in the wake of Hurricane Irma.”

Vessel owners are encouraged to hire a salvage company to recover their vessels in order to provide the safest removal method possible for the public and environment. Owners wishing to remove their own vessels are encouraged to visit the following website for guidelines and best practices http://myfwc.com/boating/vessel-hotline/removal.

Owners of displaced vessels who lack the resources to have their boat repaired, or if their vessel is determined to be beyond repair, may release ownership of their vessel through a waiver provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The waiver process can be initiated by contacting FWC through the Vessel Removal Hotline at 305-985-3744 and requesting to turn over a displaced vessel. An FWC representative will then contact the owner to explain the waiver process and facilitate the potential turnover of ownership.

The ESF-10 is the framework by which federal support is coordinated with state agencies in response to actual or potential oil spills or hazardous material releases. Partner agencies, including Florida Department of Environmental Protection, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, are contributing expertise and experience to the assessment and removal efforts.

To learn more about the ESF-10 Florida process of pollution recovery and vessel removal, click here.

The public is encouraged to call the National Response Center at (800) 424-8802 to report any pollution incidents.

Operators with the Vessel Removal Hotline can be reached at 305-985-3744.

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