Coast Guard, partners continue response to capsized vessel near Bethel Island

25 Rio VistaSAN FRANCISCO — The Coast Guard and California State Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response continued their response to the overturned Spirit of Sacramento Tuesday after the vessel capsized Sunday in the vicinity of Franks Tract near Bethel Island.

Monday, divers from Global Diving and Salvage, Inc., plugged all fuel vents aboard the vessel and confirmed the position of the vessel on the bottom of the river.

The salvage company is currently conducting further investigation into vessel schematics and other resources to assess how best to minimize the pollution risk. The salvage company and Coast Guard members will continue to monitor the site and will be ready to contain pollution originating from the vessel. The vessel is believed to have 600 gallons of diesel fuel onboard. However, an analysis of vessel schematics has revealed that the total capacity of the vessel’s fuel tanks is 4,500 gallons.

The response to this case will be protracted and consist of a two-phased approach. The first phase will consist of approximately three weeks spent preparing the vessel for a safe recovery to the surface and the second phase will consist of fuel removal operations.

Due to size of the vessel, potential amount of fuel on board and potential for a complex fuel removal evolution, Coast Guard Sector San Francisco has opened the Oil Spill Liability Trust fund in order to take prompt action in protecting the environment from oil pollution. This fund is set aside to aid in oil removal activities and damage assessment costs incurred by the Coast Guard. The largest source of revenue for the fund is a per-barrel excise tax, collected from the oil industry on petroleum produced in, or imported to the United States. Another source is cost recoveries and penalties from responsible parties; those responsible for oil incidents are liable for costs and damages.

The Coast Guard continues to work with state and local partners to coordinate oil removal operations and locate the responsible party for accountability purposes.

The public should note that multiple vessels might have the same name. In this particular case, the Coast Guard is aware of two vessels with the name “Spirit of Sacramento.” The vessel of concern in this case was once certificated, but is no longer a Coast Guard inspected vessel and is now classified as strictly a recreational vessel.

The Coast Guard urges mariners to use extreme caution when transiting the area, as the salvage and oversight operations are ongoing.

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