Pollution and salvage response follows deadly dredge fire and explosion

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Coast Guard crews respond to a dredge on fire in the Port of Corpus Christi Ship Channel, Aug. 21, 2020. A Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew was launched to the scene, hoisted two injured crewmembers, and transferred them to Corpus Christi Medical Center - Bay Area. [U.S. Coast Guard photo]

Coast Guard crews and partner agencies continued pollution and salvage response Sunday, following a fire and explosion that rocked the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas, Friday after the dredging vessel Waymon L Boyd hit a submerged pipeline. The bodies of two of the dredge’s crew members were subsequently recovered. Two other bodies were recovered this week.

Dive and salvage operations commenced at approximately 10 a.m., Sunday, and are ongoing.

A Coast Guard pollution responder observes the Port of Corpus Christi Ship Channel for possible pollution impacts Aug. 23, 2020, after the dredging vessel Waymon L Boyd sank in Corpus Chrisiti, Texas. Coast Guard Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi watchstanders were notified at 8:12 a.m. Aug. 21, 2020, with reports from witnesses describing a fire in the Port of Corpus Christi. [U.S. Coast Guard photo]

A piece of the sunken dredging vessel was located in the middle of the channel and was yesterday in the process of being safely removed.

The Texas General Land Office, state lead for coastal oil spill response, is on scene and is working to identify and protect Texas natural resources and ensure the spill is contained.

Approximately 1,600 gallons of diesel fuel has been removed from the water and 680 gallons of diesel fuel/water was skimmed overnight.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

“The Captain of the Port has reopened the Corpus Christi Ship Channel with certain restrictions from Chemical Basin to Viola Basin,” said Sean Strawbridge, CEO, Port of Corpus Christi. “While the search and rescue mission for the lost crewmen of the Waymon L Boyd has concluded, the suffering of the injured crew members and the families of those lost still endures. Our heartfelt prayers are with them all. The Port of Corpus Christi and the Incident Management Team continues the recovery and salvage of the vessel in partnership with [the owner of the dredge] Orion Marine Group, and we thank the Coast Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas General Land Office as well as our local, state and federal elected officials for their leadership during this tragic incident.”

UPDATE: TWO MORE BODIES RECOVERED

In an update released Monday, U.S. Coast Guard 8th District reported that Coast Guard and salvage crews had now recovered the bodies of the two remaining crewmembers after recovering a portion of the dredging vessel Waymon L Boyd from the Corpus Christi Ship Channel in Corpus Christi, Texas.

All missing crewmembers are now accounted for and the families have been notified.

The portion of the dredging vessel was located in the middle of the channel during diving operations Sunday.

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