Coast Guard works to develop a decontamination plan for the ESS Pursuit

The Coast Guard in New Bedford, Mass., is working with multiple state, local, and federal agencies to develop a decontamination plan for the fishing vessel ESS Pursuit today. The fishing vessel is isolated at this time to keep the public away from the hazardous areas on board.

The ESS Pursuit, home ported in Atlantic City, N.J., dredged up two munition shells 45 miles south of Fire Island, N.Y., Sunday.

A civil support team from Massachusetts went aboard the fishing vessel yesterday to conduct testing. They boarded again today and identified the presence of blister agents in one area. The Coast Guard is working with the EPA and other federal, state and local agencies to develop a decontamination plan for the vessel.

Two additional crewmembers were removed last night, one complaining of nose and eye irritation, the other person had no symptoms.

The master and first mate of the ESS Pursuit requested to stay aboard to maintain the safety of the vessel while it was at anchor. They had no reported symptoms last night and again this morning. The Coast Guard Cutter Ida Lewis will be setting a mooring buoy south of Fairhaven, Mass., that will allow the fishing vessel and crew to be safely moored and decontaminated. The location for this mooring buoy was agreed to by federal, state, and local Incident Command agencies.

The Coast Guard Cutter Tiger Shark is on scene maintaining a safety zone around the vessel.

The 39,000 pounds of clams the ESS Pursuit sold are isolated and under Massachusetts State control at Sea Watch International in New Bedford.

Coast Guard personnel from the Atlantic Strike Team are en route New Bedford to assist in the decontamination of the vessel in conjunction with the Massachusetts civil support team.

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