Coast Guard monitors oil recovery operations in U.S. Virgin Islands

Coast Guard pollution response personnel from Resident Inspection Office St Croix assess the pollution threat from the partially sunken tugboat Cape Lookout Nov. 13, 2020, which partially sank at the St. Croix Renaissance Group facility within Krause Lagoon in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. (U.S. Coast Guard photos)

Coast Guard pollution response personnel from Resident Inspection Office St Croix assess the pollution threat from the partially sunken tugboat Cape Lookout. (U.S. Coast Guard photos)

ST. CROIX, U.S. Virgin Islands — Coast Guard pollution teams Wednesday continue monitoring the final stage of oil recovery operations for the tugboat Cape Lookout and two additional abandoned tugboats at the St Croix Renaissance Group facility within Krause Lagoon in St. Croix.

“We’ve made significant progress in the last week and are now monitoring the final stage of clean-up operations,” said Chief Warrant Officer Daniell Lashbrook, Marine Safety Specialist Response and Federal On-Scene Coordinator Representative. “The Coast Guard’s main priority is to protect and return the environment and affected water to their pristine state. After completing a more in depth assessment of the situation, we extended our plan for the Cape Lookout to also remove any oil and hazardous materials from inside the two other abandoned tugboats, the Cape May and Cape Flattery, which also threatened to contaminate the environment.”

Since oil recovery operations began November 17, the National Response Corp. in St. Croix, as the Oil Spill Removal Organization hired for the project, deployed specialized dive teams to complete assessments. Cleanup crews used vacuum trucks, ISO tanks, storage tote containers and multiple skimmers to recover approximately 15,000 gallons of oily water from inside the Cape Lookout, approximately 90% of the recovered material being pure product. Clean-up crews also recovered approximately 8,000 gallons of oil product from inside the Cape May as well as 2,000 gallons of oil product from inside the Cape Flattery.

As the operation ramps down, crews from National Response Corp. and their subcontractor Resolve Marine will continue to monitor and recover any residual oil from the site and maintain containment booms placed around the vessels until deemed necessary. The recovered material is to be disposed of in accordance with local and federal environmental requirements.

To conduct oil recovery operations, the Coast Guard accessed the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. So far, clean-up operations are estimated at $475,000, as the investigation continues to identify a responsible party and the circumstances surrounding the incident.

At this time, there are no reports of affected marine or wildlife, Coast Guard on-scene personnel continue to monitor.

Following a Nov. 12 report from owner/operator of St. Croix Renaissance Group, LLP, Coast Guard personnel from Resident Inspections Office St. Croix, working in coordination with the Sector San Juan Incident Management Division, responded to the scene and confirmed oil coming from the tugboat Cape Lookout.

The Cape Lookout remains tied to a concrete platform at the facility partially sunk with its bow sticking out of the water, while the tugboats Cape May and Cape Flattery remain afloat and moored side by side just next of the Cape Lookout.

Anyone with relevant information on this case may contact the Sector San Juan Command Center at 787-289-2041.

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