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Hawaii: USCG responds to grounded fishing vessel

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Motor-sailing vessel Midway Island grounded off Hilo, Hawaii, February 5, 2020. Drone assessments produced good footage of the environment and stability conditions of the vessel. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

U.S. Coast Guard 14th District reports that responders are working to remove potential pollutants from the 63-foot commercial fishing vessel, Midway Island, currently aground off Hilo, Hawaii.

The Coast Guard is working with the Department of Land and Natural Resources and contractor personnel to mitigate the potential pollution threat from the vessel, a 1996-built motor sailer.

Reportedly, a maximum potential of 1,800 gallons of diesel and two marine batteries are aboard.

A safety zone has been established and broadcast to mariners in the area. The vessel is aground on the rocks northwest of Hilo Harbor, and the safety zone extends 100-yards in all directions from its position. The Coast Guard is asking the public to remain clear of the safety zone to prevent injury or impact to operations. The safety zone and Broadcast Notice to Mariners are in effect for the next seven days.

Drone assessments conducted Wednesday produced good footage of the environment and condition of the vessel.

Pollution response measures were expected to start today, weather permitting. A lightering team will begin to mitigate the pollution threat from the vessel by pumping the diesel fuel into 55-gallon drums. Full drums will be airlifted by helicopter to a designated landing zone and then transferred to a vacuum truck for proper disposal. Mitigation measures will be continuously reevaluated and are subject to the effectiveness of lightering operations.

A standby vessel and rescue swimmer will be onsite during operations to assist if needed. The team is also monitoring weather continuously as it may affect operations.

The Coast Guard continues to oversee assessment and mitigation efforts, working in partnership with the State of Hawaii and local officials. There are no reports of personnel injuries, pollution, or impacted wildlife. Weather on scene is 5-foot seas with 5 mph winds.

The Midway Island, a U.S.-flagged vessel, grounded Monday following a transit from Los Angeles. The cause of the grounding is under investigation.

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