The tank barge VB 53, which grounded in the upper James River
on Sunday, May 8, 2005, was successfully refloated. Divers have determined that there are cracks in the bottom of the barge caused by the grounding. The barge is not leaking at this time.
The barge is presently being moved north to the Kinder Morgan facility to be offloaded. The Coast Guard has required the responsible party to provide escort vessels equipped with containment boom and cleanup materials for the transit and transfer. Sensitive areas along the route have been protectively boomed off.
Cleanup efforts are continuing, aided by favorable weather conditions. Two vacuum trucks are removing oil from concentrated areas. There are a total of 57 contract personnel engaged in the cleanup. 26 Coast Guard personnel, assisted by representatives of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, are monitoring the cleanup and assessing environmental damage.
The Safety Zone enacted to protect the cleanup area remains in effect and is being enforced by the Coast Guard.
The investigation of the accident is continuing. Several witnesses have contacted the Coast Guard and are being interviewed. The results of the investigation are not expected to be released for several months.