Response efforts continue for freighter aground off Mona Island, Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard and other federal, state and industry responders have established an Incident Command Post and Unified Command at Coast Guard Base San Juan Friday to manage response efforts of the cargo freighter Jireh, which grounded Thursday just off Uvero Beach in Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

The grounding of the 185-foot Honduran flagged vessel remains a substantial threat to the environment having already damaged numerous corals and potentially affecting other environmentally sensitive areas.

“We are responding as rapidly as possible in close coordination with federal, state and industry partners, to ensure that all necessary actions are taken to protect the environment and protect the safety of responders on scene,” said Cmdr. David Berliner, Coast Guard Incident Commander to the response.

The Incident Command Post is comprised of the Coast Guard, Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the National Atmospheric & Oceanic Administration (NOAA), Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and Clean Harbors as the contracted Oil Spill Removal Organization.

The Unified Command, led by the Coast Guard and the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board, is coordinating response, evaluating salvage options and conducting a more thorough assessment to determine the condition of the vessel, the type and amount of fuel product onboard, and actions to mitigate any environmental impact caused by the vessel grounding.

Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team members have been mobilized to Puerto Rico to provide field and Incident Command Post support to the response. Clean Harbors has deployed three vessels to the scene with pollution response equipment and a team of divers onboard, as well as three Coast Guard pollution response personnel, two Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team members and two NOAA Scientific Support Team members.

Initial assessments indicate that there is damage to the vessel’s hull above the waterline.

Protective containment boom is being placed around the vessel to mitigate any potential fuel spill during response efforts and protect surrounding sensitive areas. At this time there are no signs of pollution in the water. Divers from the Atlantis Dive Team have been deployed to Mona Island to inspect the freighter’s hull for damage. A salvage master and assistant salvage master have been deployed to conduct an onboard damage assessment of the vessel.

The Coast Guard and Incident Command agencies continue to monitor the situation.

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