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Vessel salvage crews reach milestone in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

Vessel salvage crews reach milestone in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria 

Members of the Hurricane Maria ESF-10 response team remove a storm-impacted vessel from the waters around Culebra, Puerto Rico, Feb. 5, 2018. The team of Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and local salvage company members have been working consistently in support of the ESF-10 effort and now have fewer than 100 boats to remove. The ESF-10 team is offering no-cost options for removing these vessels; affected boat owners are asked to call the Vessel Owner Outreach Hotline at (786) 521-3900. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. David Connor)

Hurricane Maria ESF-10 Puerto Rico response teams reached a milestone in their environmental protection mission after working through the weekend in Jobos, Isleta, and Culebra to remove storm impacted vessels.

Fewer than 100 of the 377 sunken or beached vessels initially identified remain to be removed.

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“We have a strong team working on this environmentally important mission seven days a week,” said Coast Guard Incident Commander, Cmdr. Kelly Thorkilson. “Thanks to our partnership with the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, and local salvage crews we are making great progress toward the successful completion of our mission assignment.”

ESF-10 response teams have completed the following in their effort to reduce the potential environmental impact on Puerto Rico’s natural resources:

  • Assessed 377 total sunken or beached vessels
  • Oversaw removal of 260 vessels
  • Contacted 299 vessel owners
  • Mitigated 37 pollution incidents
  • Removed 16,330 gallons of oily water

Members of ESF-10 Puerto Rico continue to remove damaged vessels, which pose pollution and environmental threats, at no cost or penalty to the vessel owners. Under the unified direction of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and the U.S. Coast Guard, the goal is to remove each vessel while mitigating public health risk, preserving native habitat, and increasing the Commonwealth’s ability to reconstitute.

The DNER and the Coast Guard in conjunction with the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Control Board, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service stood up the ESF-10 command post in Puerto Rico Sept. 27, 2017, after Hurricane Maria struck the island on Sept. 19.

The Emergency Support Function 10 (ESF-10) Puerto Rico unified command continues to ask that vessel owners in need of assistance call the Hurricane Maria Vessel Hotline at (786) 521-3900 to request free support to remove a vessel, report a vessel removal plan, or report a vessel that has already been removed.

Editor’s note: Media interested in covering salvage operations and conducting interviews with crews are encouraged to contact the Public Information Officer at 939-401-6872.


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