Unified Command cleans up abandoned ship

BALTIMORE – The Coast Guard along with state and local agencies have completed the clean-up and recovery operations of approximately 100,000 gallons of oil from a sunken cargo vessel in the Patapsco River Monday.

The Coast Guard, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and Maryland Port Administration (MPA) formed a unified command Nov. 14, 2007 to evaluate and approve the clean-up of the Seawitch, an abandoned vessel formerly used in a ship salvaging and scrapping business.

“This operation is a fine example of our partnership among federal, state and local agencies along with the private sector,” said Capt. Brian Kelley, Captain of the Port of Baltimore. “Together, we’ve worked to eliminate a serious environmental threat to the Port of Baltimore and Chesapeake Bay.”

In July 2008, the Unified Command accessed the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to pay for the clean-up and recovery operations. The approximate cost of the clean-up was 12 million dollars.

The Unified Command has overseen continual operations to remove water, oil, concrete and other waste materials in preparation for towing the vessel to Sparrows Point for further cleaning and destruction. Once the vessel has been destroyed, the metal will be recycled at the Bethlehem Steel Mill.

The Seawitch was a cargo vessel that was involved in a collision in New York harbor in 1973. The forward part of the ship was relocated to Baltimore where it was used for a ship salvage and scrapping company to store waste materials.

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