Unified Command begins removing pollution from vessels in wake of Hurricane Florence

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Wiechert, a marine science technician assigned to Marine Safety Unit Houma, La., and Parks Moss, a sergeant with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, document the mitigation of the first land-side, environmental-threat pollution case for ESF-10 in New Bern, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission partnered under a unified command to evaluate and mitigate pollution threats from sunken or displaced vessels and orphaned hazardous materials containers in North Carolina’s major disaster-declared counties for the federal mission of Emergency Support Function-10. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Hillard)

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Wiechert, a marine science technician assigned to Marine Safety Unit Houma, La., and Parks Moss, a sergeant with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, document the mitigation of the first land-side, environmental-threat pollution case for ESF-10 in New Bern, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission partnered under a unified command to evaluate and mitigate pollution threats from sunken or displaced vessels and orphaned hazardous materials containers in North Carolina’s major disaster-declared counties for the federal mission of Emergency Support Function-10. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Hillard)

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Response crews from Emergency Support Function #10 (ESF #10) North Carolina Unified Command began operations to remove pollution from vessels sunk or displaced by Hurricane Florence, Friday.

“We’re pleased to see how many owners have already taken action to recover their displaced vessels and encourage more to do so,” said Capt. David O’Neal, N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission. “Our officers will help U.S. Coast Guard members remove the threat of pollution from remaining vessels, but final responsibility for removing the vessel falls to the registered owner.”

As of Oct. 9, 2018, ESF-10 Pollution Assessment Teams have assessed over 540 total targets impacted by Hurricane Florence. There are a total of 205 vessels and 05 containers that still need action to be taken to properly mitigate the pollution threat. These numbers are subject to change as owners salvage their vessels and additional vessels are discovered in the affected areas.

Owners of storm-impacted vessels can contact the Unified Command at (757) 355-1042 to report their salvage plan and ensure they are following the best management practices to protect the environment. Owners should be prepared to provide their name, phone number, vessel registration number, and the reference number listed on the sticker placed on their vessel.

Any displaced or adrift containers larger than 55 gallons (approximately two feet wide by three feet tall) should be reported to the the National Response Center at (800) 424-8802. Any containers smaller than 55 gallons should be reported to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality or local municipal waste facilities.

The Unified Command consists of Capt. David O’Neal, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) On-Scene Coordinator and U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Raymond Negron serving as Federal On-Scene Coordinator Representative.

ESF-10 is the framework coordinating federal and state agency response to actual or potential oil spills or hazardous material releases in the FEMA designated counties. Assisting agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality are contributing expertise and experience to the assessment efforts.

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