Coast Guard completes initial oil removal operations of grounded freighter Jireh

Southeastern Coast Guard NewsSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA), Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board (EQB), and various other federal, state and local response personnel completed Sunday the initial phase for the removal of known quantities of oil aboard the grounded 202-foot freighter Jireh on the southern coast of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

“The exact amount of fuel and oil aboard the Jireh remains unknown until response contractors remove the oiled cargo onboard and access two submerged tanks and hull voids that need to be surveyed to determine if they contain any additional fuel or hazardous material inside,” said Yolanda Martinez, Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board Incident Commander.

The Unified Command has also hired Resolve Marine Group, Inc. as the Oil Spill Removal Organization for the response. Resolve Marine Group, Inc. will stage operations in Mona Island, Puerto Rico this week to remove the oiled cargo and remaining hazardous materials as well as survey the submerged tanks and remaining hull voids aboard the Jireh. The cargo consists of mangoes, water bottles, grain bags of animal feed, cinder blocks and carbonated drinks as well as known hazardous materials, in the form of two acetylene and three cylinders of unknown content, that remain onboard.

“Resolve Marine Group, Inc. is sending a barge from Mobile, Ala. to conduct the removal of the oiled cargo, hazardous materials and any potential fuel remaining aboard the Jireh,” said Cmdr. David Berliner, Coast Guard Incident Commander to the response. “It will take approximately a week for the barge to arrive on scene and several more days to complete removal of the contaminated cargo.”

During the first ten days of operations, Clean Harbors served as the response contractor on scene staging equipment and personnel who surrounded the vessel with approximately 1,300 feet of containment boom to protect the environment during fuel removal operations.

Clean Harbors response contractors successfully removed approximately 2,275 gallons of diesel and oil/water mixture from the Jireh engine room, day tank, cargo compartments and accessible fuel tanks as well as various hazardous materials onboard, and will remain on scene to support Resolve Marine Group, Inc. throughout the remainder of the response.

Response contractors have pumped all recovered oil into temporary storage containers onboard a designated tug boat for final disposal.

A Coast Guard Cutter and DNER marine units continue enforcing a 500-yard safety zone around the vessel and DRNA park rangers are providing shore side security to the response.

Response crews currently on scene are the Coast Guard Cutter Cushing, a 110-foot island class cutter homeported in San Juan; Punta Borinquen, a 95-foot motor vessel; Orca II, a 45-foot Clean Harbors work vessel; Caribe Lifter, a 6,500-ton lifting capacity crane barge; Don Raul, a 75-foot tugboat.

The Unified Command continues to monitor response operations, while the Coast Guard continues to investigate 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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