Update on Puerto Rican Oil Spill

GUANICA, Puerto Rico – Unified Command announced Sunday the continued efforts in the ongoing recovery of oil products, and protecting the sensitive areas in the southwest coast of Puerto Rico from Guayanilla Bay to La Parguera.

The crew of an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter with a marine pollution investigator aboard conducted an overflight to verify a report of a new sighting of a patch of oil, approximately one and a half miles southeast of La Parguera. More than 2,200 feet of 21 inch hard-line boom has been deployed to protect Gilligan’s Island, La Parguera Bioluminescent Bay and other sensitive areas.

Additional response personnel from the Coast Guard National Strike Force and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration have augmented the Unified Command. Oil recovery and shoreline assessment teams have been deployed throughout the affected areas. So far, approximately 50 cubic yards of material have been recovered from the water and beaches.

No reports of wildlife being affected by the oil product have been received and wildlife experts from the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and U.S. Fish and wildlife continue to monitor the situation.

The Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources has reopened the beaches of Playa Santa, Caña Gorda, Copa Marina, Jaboncillo and Cayos de la Parguera be opened Sunday. The beaches of Playita Rosada and Cayo Mata La Gata were opened Saturday. Javier Velez Arocho, Secretary, Department of Natural and Environmental Resources of Puerto Rico has prohibited hunting activity for safety and security reasons in the area of Punta Ventana, Guayanilla, Puerto Rico until further notice.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan controllers received initial notification at approximately 8:45 a.m. Thursday from Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action, identifying oil patches. Coast Guard Pollution Investigators from Regional Inspection Office, Ponce arrived to the scene with the assistance of a F.U.R.A. marine unit and took samples of the unknown product. The crew of a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen HH-65 Dolphin helicopter conducted three flights and located four to five bands of product across a five mile area offshore.

Coast Guard pollution investigators continue investigating the origin of the material that has been spilled into the water, and the emergency Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund has been increased to $750,000 to continue containment and recovery operations of the material.

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