Crews accelerate vessel salvage operations in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

Members of the unified Hurricane Maria ESF-10 response assess grounded vessels slated for removal in Salinas, Puerto Rico, Dec. 19, 2017. The team was composed of members of the Coast Guard, an Environmental Protection Agency contractor and local salvage crews, all working in the ESF-10 effort to remove the boats that were stranded in the hurricane. The ESF-10 is offering no-cost options for removing these vessels; affected boat owners are asked to call the Vessel Owner Outreach Hotline at (786) 521-3900. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lisa Ferdinando)

Members of the unified Hurricane Maria ESF-10 response assess grounded vessels slated for removal in Salinas, Puerto Rico, Dec. 19, 2017.   (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lisa Ferdinando)

SAN JUAN – The Hurricane Maria ESF-10 Puerto Rico response team continued Wednesday assessing and removing storm-ravaged vessels from targeted sites throughout the island.

Crews conducted boater outreach in Isleta Maria, and surveys in Ponce and Cabo Rojo. Salvage crews also conducted dive assessments in Isleta Maria and crane-barge operations in Puerto Chico.

Additionally, the team on Monday removed the last of five vessels targeted for removal in Las Croabas. Saturday, salvage crews used a crane barge to remove a sailboat that was previously blocking the roadway in north Fajardo.

As of today, response teams have identified 368 impacted vessels, with 166 of those cases closed. Teams have made contact with 199 owners, and responded to 33 pollution reports.

Pollution prevention specialists have dewatered 7,000 gallons of oily water mixture and collected 4 cubic yards of oily debris from vessels.

The ESF-10 Puerto Rico is removing damaged vessels, which pose pollution and environmental threats, at no cost or penalty to the vessel owners. Under the direction of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, the goal is to remove each vessel while mitigating public health risk, preserving native habitat, and increasing the Commonwealth’s ability to reconstitute.

Vessel owners in need of assistance are asked to call the Hurricane Maria Vessel Hotline at (786) 521-3900 to request free support from the unified command to remove a vessel, report a vessel removal plan, or report a vessel that has already been removed. The DNER and the U.S. Coast Guard in conjunction with the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Control Board, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service stood up the ESF-10 command post in Puerto Rico Sept. 27, 2017, after Hurricane Maria struck the island on Sept. 19.

For photos and video of the Hurricane Maria response, please visit our Hurricane Maria Flickr page.

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