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 Nov. 12 and placed a containment boom around the partially sunken Cape Lookout, Coast Guard spokesman Ricardo Castrodad told The Daily News on Tuesday.
While at least some of the oil was not captured by the boom, that initial containment effort likely kept the vast majority of oil from drifting throughout the lagoon, and crews started work Tuesday to capture and dispose of the oil, Castrodad said.
“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,” according to information from a Coast Guard news release. “At this time, approximately 85% of the discharged 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.”
“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 in a statement.
Castrodad said that has happened and a crew was dispatched Tuesday to clean up the site.
The 97-foot tugboat “remains tied to a concrete platform at the facility partially sunk with its bow sticking out of the water,” according to the news release, and Castrodad said it’s unclear when exactly the vessel was abandoned.
Castrodad said while the tugboat’s owners are ultimately responsible for the vessel’s maintenance and the spill, the priority now is to clean up the environmental hazard, and then the Coast Guard will continue working to identify the responsible individuals.
Anyone with relevant information on can contact the Sector San Juan Command Center at 787-289-2041.