Coast Guard helps clean up oil spill caused by tugboat in Newport News

Posted at 5:39 PM, Jan 29, 2018

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The Coast Guard oversaw the response to an oil spill that was caused by a partially submerged tugboat in Newport News on January 24.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads Command Center were notified about the spill after another tugboat in the area noticed the disabled vessel and oil spill.

The Coast Guard pollution response team and the Newport News Hazardous Materials Team responded to survey the scene and deploy boom Saturday night, officials say.

The Coast Guard believes that of the 21,000 gallons of motor oil that the disabled tugboat could carry, only 5 to 10 gallons of motor oil actually spilled out of the boat. Even though the tugboat could hold 21,000 gallons, officials are not sure how much oil was actually in the tugboat when it was left broken down.

As of Sunday, The Coast Guard, Newport News HAZMAT team and Virginia Department of Emergency Management were still cleaning up the spill, deploying sorbent pads and boom in effort to clean it up.

“We will thoroughly monitor cleanup operations,” said Lt. j.g. Stasia Ellis, a marine environmental response chief at Sector Hampton Roads. “The Coast Guard’s main concern is ensuring minimal impact to the environment and maximum safety to the local boating community.”

The owner of the vessel was not able to be reached when Coast Guard officials called.

The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund was opened to pay for response efforts.

The Coast Guard issued a safety marine information broadcast to encourage mariners to remain clear of the waterway near the site until operations have been completed.

Now the Coast Guard will be tasked with draining the rest of the oil in the tugboat’s oil tanks.