Coast Guard responds to diesel discharge in San Juan Harbor

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard Incident Management personnel from Sector San Juan are responding Tuesday to a diesel discharge from the partially sunken 42-foot recreational vessel Ajo del País by Pier 11 in San Juan Harbor, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard Incident Management Division personnel are advising the public that there may be a strong smell of diesel in the area extending west from Pier 11 throughout the cruise ship terminals in San Juan Harbor and the Coast Guard Base.

The Ajo del País vessel fuel tank has a maximum capacity of 400 gallons however, the amount of fuel discharged from the vessel and the amount of fuel remaining inside the tank 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 investigators 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 have installed containment and absorbent boom around the vessel and will be looking to recover any remaining fuel from the vessel tanks.

As efforts continue, the Coast Guard is communicating and coordinating with local and federal government agencies to keep them informed on the status and progress of the response.

“We are working with the hired oil spill removal organization to recover as much of the discharged product as possible and remove this pollution threat from San Juan Harbor,” said Lt. Cmdr. Alberto Martinez, Sector San Juan Incident Management Division chief. “We are focused on resolving this situation as quickly as possible while protecting public health and mitigating any further impacts to the environment.”

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

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