SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA), Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board (EQB), and various other federal, state and local response personnel continue oil removal operations July 10 aboard the grounded 202-foot freighter Jireh on the southern coast of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.
Resolve Marine Group Inc., the Oil Spill Removal Organization for the response, removed an additional 1,775 gallons of diesel fuel from previously inaccessible fuel tanks aboard the Jireh.
“We are making progress and ensuring that all the fuel is being properly removed from the Jireh without impacting the environment,” said Cmdr. David Berliner, Coast Guard Incident Commander for the Response. “The barge needed to finalize oiled cargo removal and fuel offload operations is expected to arrive to Mona Island between Thursday and Friday.”
Since response operations began June 21, approximately 4,050 gallons of diesel fuel and oil water mixture have been removed from the grounded freighter.
Dive operations around the Jireh also continued July 9 to strategically install an anchoring system for the incoming barge without impacting the environment and to assess any further damage to the vessel’s hull.
Divers identified a10-foot hole/crack on the side of the Jireh’s hull ranging from three to six inches in diameter. There are no signs of oil having been released into the water and the vessel continues to be surrounded by approximately 1,300-feet of containment boom to protect the environment and contain any possible fuel that may be released into the water during ongoing fuel removal operations.
“Protecting the environment and surrounding coral colonies is a top priority," said Angel Rodríguez, Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board Deputy Incident Commander for the response. "Once the barge is in place, response contractors will be able to safely remove the remaining oiled cargo, fuel and hazardous materials onboard.
The cargo aboard the Jireh consists of mangoes, water bottles, grain bags of animal feed, cinder blocks, carbonated drinks and miscellaneous hazardous materials.
A Coast Guard Cutter and DNER marine units continue enforcing a 500-yard safety zone around the vessel and DRNA park rangers are providing shore side security to the response.
The Unified Command continues to monitor response operations, while the Coast Guard continues to investigate the cause of the grounding.
The Unified Command consists of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board, and various other federal, state and local agencies.