Oil removal operations continue aboard grounded freighter

Seventh Coast Guard District NewsSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA), 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 Friday removing oil from the grounded 202-foot freighter Jireh.

Response crews have removed more than 1,300 gallons of oil/water mixture from the engine room and fuel tanks aboard the grounded freighter.

“We are encouraged by the progress of operations so far but there is still a long way to go before we’re done,” said Cmdr. David Berliner, Coast Guard Incident Commander to the response. “Our crews will continue to focus on the safe and efficient removal of oil and cargo from the Jireh.”

The vessel is completely boomed off with 800-feet of containment boom. For additional protection, 500-feet of boom was deployed to provide a secondary containment area during all diesel fuel transfer operations between the cargo freighter and the two 35-foot recovery boats.

The exact amount of fuel and oil aboard is unknown. Thursday two previously unaccounted for fuel tanks were identified after response crews located the original builder’s plans, in German and dating back to 1963, with diagrams of the interior layout of the cargo ship.

“Oil removal operations have continued to be done safely and without impact to the environment” said Engineer Amarilys Rosario, the Incident Commander for the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board. “Safe operations and the removal of oil continue to lower the risk to the pristine environment around Mona Island.”

All recovered oil will be transferred to 250-gallon capacity plastic totes onboard Clean Harbor’s small boats. These totes will be pumped out to temporary storage containers onboard a designated tug boat for final disposal.

The Unified Command is assessing proposed vessel removal plans. The Coast Guard Cutter Reef Shark continues to maintain a 500-yard safety zone around the vessel.

The Coast Guard and Incident Command are continuing to monitor response operations. The Coast Guard continues investigating the cause of the grounding.

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.

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