Response crews prepare Jireh for final removal from Mona Island

Southeastern Coast Guard NewsSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Response crews continue to prepare the grounded freighter Jireh for final removal and disposal scheduled for Thursday from Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

The Jireh is to be refloated and towed to a predetermined disposal site for sinking at a minimum depth of 600 feet.

As of Tuesday, response crews have removed approximately 110 tons of steel from the vessel.

Response crews completed removing sections of the ship to reduce the weight, protect the hull and increase buoyancy before refloating and sinking the vessel. The sections being removed from the Jireh are being placed on a barge and taken to a recycling center for proper disposal.

NOAA crews are continuing to remove and reattach corals at risk from the grounded ship. Nearly 1,000 corals have been moved and transplanted. The transplanted corals are expected to have a high survival rate and reduce the overall impacts from the vessel removal operation.

A NOAA-authorized biologist is on site during all coral relocation operations to make sure corals are properly handled and reattached to reefs. Depending on conditions after the vessel’s removal, the coral colonies may be relocated back to their original place on the reef.

Removing the Jireh from Mona Island is the best solution to minimize environmental impact. When the vessel is permanently removed, NOAA divers will conduct an assessment of the grounding area and continue to work with local environmental agencies as the effort transitions from response to recovery.

The Jireh ran aground on Mona Island June 21, 2012 with 84 passengers and crew.

More than 5,000 gallons of oil/water mix and 600 tons of oiled cargo have been removed from the grounded freighter.

A Unified Command made up of the Coast Guard, the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board and other federal, state and local response personnel are working together to safely remove the freighter Jireh from Mona Island.

All operations involving the Jireh are funded through the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Contributions to the OSLTF are made through a per barrel tax paid by oil companies as well as fines levied against companies who violate the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and other related laws.

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