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HomeNewsLocal newsCoast Guard Investigating Oil Spill on Eastern Shore of Lindbergh Bay

Coast Guard Investigating Oil Spill on Eastern Shore of Lindbergh Bay

The V.I. Water and Power Authority has set up a containment and absorbent recovery boom on the eastern shore of Lindbergh Bay on St. Thomas to collect oil that Coast Guard discovered in the water near the Randolph Harley Power Plant. (Coast Guard photo)
The V.I. Water and Power Authority has set up a containment and absorbent recovery boom on the eastern shore of Lindbergh Bay on St. Thomas to collect oil that Coast Guard discovered in the water near the Randolph Harley Power Plant. (Coast Guard photo)

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday with comment from WAPA.

The Coast Guard is overseeing cleanup efforts after discovering an oil spill in the water on the eastern shore of Lindbergh Bay on St. Thomas, the agency announced Tuesday morning. The V.I. Water and Power Authority said the spill is not tied to the diesel tank discharge that occurred at its Randolph Harley Power Plant last month.

Personnel with the Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment St. Thomas and Atlantic Strike Team are awaiting forensic oil sample analysis from the Marine Safety Lab to identify the type of oil discharged into the water, according to the press release. “This information may help identify a possible source and responsible party,” it said.

In a statement Tuesday night, WAPA said it is not responsible for the spill, but is assisting to contain it.

“The engine oil spill at Lindbergh Bay is not in correlation with the diesel oil at the plant that has been contained. As a responsible corporate citizen, WAPA agreed to assist the Coast Guard with the cleanup efforts when the oil was found,” said WAPA spokesperson Shanell Petersen.

“The engine oil spill is being investigated by the Coast Guard, but all evidence has shown that it is unrelated to the oil spill reported a couple weeks ago. The press release issued by the Coast Guard fails to mention that WAPA is in no way responsible for the oil spill and that we were simply being stewards of protecting our natural resources by assisting with cleanup efforts,” Petersen said.

The Source reached out to the Coast Guard to ask how much oil is in the water, how long the cleanup will take, and when it expects to receive the forensic analysis results, but has not yet received a reply.

“The Coast Guard is fully dedicated to environmental response efforts impacting our waterways,” Capt. José E. Díaz, head of the port and federal on-scene coordinator for the response, said in the press release. “Our top priorities for this response are to ensure the oil is cleaned up in a timely manner and that any threat to public health and the environment are properly mitigated in this case.” 

WAPA’s oil spill removal organization deployed a containment and absorbent recovery boom in the water to collect the oil and prevent it from further spreading into Lindbergh Bay, the release stated. At this time, the oil is effectively being contained and collected from within the containment boom area, it said.

A containment and absorbent recovery boom can be seen along the eastern shore of Lindbergh Bay on St. Thomas after oil was found in the water. (Coast Guard photo)
A containment and absorbent recovery boom can be seen along the eastern shore of Lindbergh Bay on St. Thomas after oil was found in the water. (Coast Guard photo)

WAPA responders continue cleanup efforts to collect diesel material and contaminated soil from the No. 11 tank discharge that occurred the weekend of Oct. 21. So far, oil recovery crews at that site have collected approximately 18,000 gallons of oily water mixture from the discharge tank’s secondary containment and an additional 8,000 gallons of oily water mixture have been collected from the affected land outside the secondary containment, the Coast Guard said.

The spill occurred when a shipment of diesel was offloaded at the Harley plant and one of the onshore storage tanks appears to have overflowed. About 30-40 percent of the spillage ended up outside the tank’s exterior secondary containment unit, which is meant to function like a dam to contain the liquid, WAPA CEO Andy Smith said at the time.

As of Nov. 1, no impacts to the waterway had been observed, the Coast Guard reported. WAPA said it is working to figure out what caused the malfunction and if it can be fixed.

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