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U.S. Coast Guard Works To Contain Oil Spill From Sunken Tugboat In Krause Lagoon On St. Croix

CHRISTIANSTED — The U.S. Coast Guard is working to clean up oil leaking from an abandoned tugboat in Krause Lagoon on St. Croix’s south shore.

The owner of St. Croix Renaissance Group made a report on Thursday and placed a containment boom around the partially sunken Cape Lookout, U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Ricardo Castrodad said yesterday.

U.S. Coast Guard pollution teams began assessing the active oil spill from the partially-sunken tugboat Cape Lookout On Friday, Castrodad said.

The amount of oil discharged from the Cape Lookout remains unknown, while the maximum potential discharge based on the size of the vessel fuel and lube oil tanks is approximately 48,000 gallons of fuel and 2,000 gallons of lube oil. It is unknown how full both tanks are at this time.

U.S. Coast Guard pollution response personnel from Resident Inspection Office St Croix assess the partially sunken tugboat Cape Lookout on Friday, which partially sank at the St. Croix Renaissance Group facility within Krause Lagoon in St. Croix. (U.S. Coast Guard photos)

“Due to the immediate pollution threat this vessel represents to the environment and surrounding area, the Coast Guard is working to open the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to hire an Oil Spill Removal Organization to conduct clean-up operations,” Lt. Cmdr. Alberto Martinez, Sector San Juan Incident Management Division chief, said. “Once an OSRO is hired, the company will provide specialized personnel and equipment to recover any oil, fuel or potential hazardous materials that may have been discharged into the water or remain aboard the vessel.”

Following a Nov. 12 report from owner/operator of St. Croix Renaissance Group, LLP, Coast Guard personnel from Resident Inspections Office St. Croix, working in coordination with the Sector San Juan Incident Management Division, responded to the scene and confirmed oil coming from the 97-foot tugboat. The Cape Lookout remains tied to a concrete platform at the facility partially sunk with its bow sticking out of the water.

At this time, approximately 85 percent of the spilled oil remains contained within the absorbent and containment boom that is surrounding the vessel, while the remaining material remains within an area that extends approximately 50 yards from the vessel.

“Our main priority is to complete the hiring of the OSRO to stop the discharge of oil and take the necessary actions to properly clean-up and eliminate any further threat of pollution from this vessel,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Webster, Coast Guard Marine Science Technician at RIO St Croix. “As clean-up operations take place, we will continue to investigate and work with the National Pollution Funds Center to determine a responsible party.”

Anyone with relevant information on this case may contact the Sector San Juan Command Center at 787-289-2041.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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