Agencies Respond to Florida Oil Spill

Monday, November 19, 2007
Federal, state and local agencies are responding to an oil spill on the Nassau River, Fla., at the Nassau Terminal in Fernandina, Fla., after a 6,297-gross ton ship spilled an unknown amount of oil into the River. The Seaboard Rio Haina was loading containers on to its deck while it was adjusting its ballast to keep the vessel properly trimmed. One of the ballast tanks overflowed spilling water and an unknown amount of fuel oil on to the deck of the ship and into the river. The spill was not caused as a result of a puncture to its hull.

Terminal personnel immediately placed boom around the ship and the terminal to attempt to contain the pollution. Personnel from Nassau Terminal notified the Coast Guard of the spill at 9 p.m. Coast Guard pollution investigators and a port state control inspector were at the scene of the spill in approximately 40 minutes assessing the situation. Because the spill occurred at night, the investigators were unable to determine how much, if any, oil had entered the water.

Coast Guard pollution investigators have conducted numerous soundings of the ship’s tanks, and an estimated 700- to-800 gallons of oil are unaccounted for. About 200 gallons of oil was recovered from the deck of the ship so far. It is unknown how much has entered the water. These numbers are estimates and may change as assessment and investigation efforts continue. A Coast Guard helicopter is conducting an over flight assessment of the affected area to determine how much of the river has been impacted. A Coast Guard boat is currently assessing the situation in the affected areas – no environmental impact has been observed so far. A command post for the agencies involved is being stood up at the Nassau Terminal.

The Seaboard Rio Haina has been ordered to stay in port and cease all cargo operations until the exact cause of the spill has been determined including why there was oil in the ballast tank. Coast Guard port state control inspectors are investigating the exact cause of the spill.

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