Coast Guard removes pollution threat in San Juan Harbor

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard Incident Management pollution responders from Sector San Juan and the hired oil spill removal organization, Clean Harbors LLC, completed the removal of diesel and oily products from the 42-foot recreational vessel Ajo del País by Pier 11 in San Juan Harbor, Puerto Rico, Thursday.

Clean-up crews refloated the partially sunken vessel to remove approximately 800 gallons of oily water waste comprised mostly of diesel and engine oil that were pumped-out from the vessel.

“We are glad that everything came together, and that the right resources were brought into this response to remove this pollution threat from San Juan Harbor,” said Lt. Cmdr. Alberto Martinez, Sector San Juan Incident Management Division chief. “We appreciate the excellent coordination between the oil spill removal organization, local partner agencies and the Coast Guard personnel overseeing the response. San Juan Harbor is very active and important waterway in Puerto Rico, and we stand ready to respond and protect it from any pollution threat.”

The Ajo del País vessel fuel tank has a maximum capacity of 400 gallons however, the amount of fuel discharged from the vessel remains unknown. The cause of the vessel sinking also remains unknown.

Coast Guard watch standers at Sector San Juan received a phone and email communication from the National Response Center at 8:57a.m. Monday reporting the situation. Watch standers conducted interagency notifications and dispatched a team of pollution responders to the scene.

Due to the potential impact to the waterway, the Coast Guard activated the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and contracted Clean Harbors LLC as the oil spill removal organization. Cleanup crews initially installed containment and absorbent boom around the vessel before a team of divers and a vacuum truck were used to recover the oily water waste from the fuel tank and engine once the vessel was refloated.

Coast Guard pollution responders, coordinating with Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources personnel, detected no signs of affected wildlife.

“We appreciate the actions of the people at La Coal marina and fishing village for their prompt notification to the National Response Center,” said Petty Officer 1st Class James Peterson, Marine Science Technician and Federal On-Scene Coordinator Representative for the case. “This allowed our team to quickly arrive on-scene and initiate response actions. Any person or entity who identifies an oil discharge on the waterway should contact the National Response Center, it could make all the difference in having a successful response and employing prompt mitigating actions to better protect public health, the marine environment, and property.”

People looking to report oil pollution in the water may contact the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.

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