Crews expand vessel salvage operations in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Rich Bassin affixes a reference sticker to a sunken boat caused by Hurricane Maria in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. The Maria ESF-10 PR Unified Command, consisting of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, U.S. Coast Guard in conjunction with the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Control Board, Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. and Fish & Wildlife Service, is responding to vessels found to be damaged, displaced, submerged or sunken. The ESF 10 is the framework by which federal support is coordinated with state agencies in response to actual or potential oil spills or hazardous material releases. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Timothy Tamargo

Hurricane Maria ESF-10 Puerto Rico file photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Timothy Tamargo

SAN JUAN – Hurricane Maria ESF-10 Puerto Rico response teams continued on-site assessments today in Palmas del Mar, Puerto Chico, Fajardo, Salinas, Mayagüez, and Cabo Rojo to identify and remove boats damaged by Hurricane Maria.

Since last update, salvage crews have removed impacted vessels from Puerto Chico and Salinas, while survey and dive teams assessed damage in La Parguera. Tuesday, crews conducted vessel owner outreach in Cabo Rojo and completed damage assessments in Piñones.

Response teams have currently identified 375 impacted vessels, with 177 of those cases now closed. Teams have made contact with 217 owners, and responded to 34 pollution reports. Pollution prevention specialists have dewatered 7,050 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.

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