Coast Guard Marine Safety Office Hampton Roads is responding to a report of a diesel fuel spill from the tank barge VB 53 on the upper James River below Richmond. The spill was reported to the Coast Guard National Response Center at 11:41 a.m. on Sunday, May 8, 2005.
The barge was being pushed south on the James River in an area known as Kingsland Reach, about 2 miles northwest of the Interstate 295 bridge, when it sustained damage to two cargo tanks. The barge is presently aground and has a port list. The owners have submitted a lightering and salvage plan to the Coast Guard for approval.
The amount of diesel fuel spilled has not been determined. The barge is surrounded by oil containment boom and other booms have been deployed upstream and downstream to limit the spread of the oil. Oil contained around the barge is being recovered by a vacuum truck and workers using absorbent materials designed for the purpose. A late afternoon aerial survey revealed that some oil accumulated in a nearby cove.
The Coast Guard Federal On Scene Coordinator has enacted a Safety Zone between James River Lights 154 and 156. Vessels are prohibited from operating in this area without the permission of the Coast Guard. A Coast Guard vessel is en route to enforce the Safety Zone.
The Coast Guard’s Atlantic Strike Team has been activated and is sending equipment and a mobile command center, which is expected to arrive later.
The barge is a 300-foot single-skin oil barge owned by Vane Line Bunkering
, Inc. of Baltimore, Maryland.