Unified Command approves decontamination plan of ESS Pursuit

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – The Unified Command in New Bedford has developed a strategy to remediate the sulfur mustard contamination of the fishing vessel ESS Pursuit starting today.

The Unified Command, which consists of representatives from the Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, state of Massachusetts, and local government agencies, has set a priority on keeping the public safe from exposure to sulfur mustard.

The EPA consulted extensively with its National Decontamination Team to determine the most effective decontamination methods for the vessel. This decontamination plan was then reviewed by a multi-agency Regional Response Team made up of the Massachusetts Department of the Environmental Protection, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Defense, the Coast Guard, the EPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The two remaining crewmembers, who have shown no symptoms of exposure, will go through a decontamination process as a precaution while the vessel is decontaminated.

After the vessel has been decontaminated, sampling and monitoring will be conducted again to ensure no further contamination exists on the ESS Pursuit.

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