News Releases

UPDATE 7: Crews continue to mitigate pollution threats from vessels displaced by Hurricane Irma

News Release

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Media contact: Rob Klepper, 850-617-9666, Robert.Klepper@MyFWC.com

MIAMI – Cleanup efforts and removal operations of displaced vessels are progressing throughout Florida waterways seven weeks after Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys.

The Unified Command for the response—officially titled Emergency Support Function 10 (ESF 10) Florida—consists of leaders from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Currently, 1,492 displaced vessels have been removed from Florida waterways by both private owners and Unified Command response teams. Nearly 230 personnel from state and federal agencies are involved in the disaster response.

Responders are prioritizing the removal of vessels based on environmental impact.

“Responders are actively removing displaced vessels that pose a potential environmental threat,” said Cmdr. JoAnne Hanson, Coast Guard Incident Commander for ESF 10 Florida. “Vessels that are actively leaking are our top priority and we are working with the vessel and property owners, using Florida state laws, to determine the best method to mitigate the impacts of Irma on a vessel-by-vessel basis.”

Vessel owners are encouraged to hire a salvage company to recover their vessels in order to provide the safest removal method possible for the public and environment. Owners wishing to remove their own vessels are encouraged to visit MyFWC.com/Boating, click on “Displaced Vessel Hotline” and then “Information for Boat Owners Removing Their Boats,” for guidelines and best practices.

Owners of displaced vessels, sunken upon public waters, who lack the resources to have their boat repaired, or if their vessel is determined to be beyond repair, may release ownership of their vessel through a waiver provided by the FWC. The waiver process can be initiated by contacting the FWC through the Vessel Removal Hotline at 305-985-3744 and requesting to turn over a displaced vessel. An FWC representative will then contact the owner to explain the waiver process and facilitate the potential turnover of ownership.

The dynamic nature of post-storm marine response activities has resulted in the need for clarification regarding procedures for dealing with storm-displaced vessels in marinas and private docks.

Vessel Removal Guidance

If a vessel is legally located within a public marina and the marina has insurance:

USCG/EPA response team will be allowed to recover pollution from vessels posing a potential environmental threat, but will not remove vessels. Vessel removal will be the responsibility of the marina owner.

If a vessel is legally located within a public marina and the marina does not have insurance:

Response teams will be authorized to remove vessels if the marina owner is not taking responsibility for the vessel.

If a vessel has been blown into a public marina:

Since these vessel owners are not bound by an agreement with the marina, the pollution and vessel can be moved by the Unified Command response teams.

If a vessel is tied to a private marina or HOA marina or community dock:

Vessel removal is the responsibility of each private vessel owner. This includes vessels wrecked within a private marina or homeowner association's community dock facility. The USCG/EPA response team will still recover pollution from any vessel posing a risk to the environment.

If a vessel has blown into a private marina or HOA marina or community dock:

Since these vessel owners are not bound by an agreement with the marina, the pollution and vessel can be moved by the Unified Command response teams.

If a vessel is moored or tied to a private dock:

Vessel removal is the responsibility of the private property owner. These vessels may still have the pollution recovered from them by Unified Command response teams to prevent any damage to the environment caused by leaking fuel or other hazardous materials.

Vessel owners whose vessels are attached to someone else's private property:

These vessel owners need to work with the property owners, vessel insurance companies and property insurance companies to arrange for a timely resolution to the issue.

 

These updated figures represent a combination of displaced vessels removed from the water by ESF 10 Florida and private owners. These numbers are subject to change as more vessels are identified and removed from the water.

 Miami

Miami Branch: 34 personnel

Vessel Removal Status

  • Vessels removed: 69

Operational Highlights

  • Response operations commenced in Miami-Dade County.

Stpete

St. Petersburg Branch: 58 personnel

Vessel Removal Status

  • Vessels removed: 265

Operational Highlights

  • Completed removal of 34-foot sailboat partially blocking residential canal in Cape Coral.

Jax

Jacksonville Branch: 34 personnel

Vessel Removal Status

  • Vessels removed: 57

Operational Highlights

  • Expected to complete removal of 68-foot vessel on Trout River.
  • Removal operations commenced in central Florida.

Keys

Florida Keys Branch: 95 personnel

Vessel Removal Status

  • Vessels removed: 1,101

Operational Highlights

  • Additional removal barge scheduled to arrive midweek to support operations.

The ESF 10 is the framework by which federal support is coordinated with state agencies in response to actual or potential oil spills or hazardous material releases. Partner agencies, including Florida Department of Environmental Protection, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, are contributing expertise and experience to the assessment and removal efforts.

The public is encouraged to call the National Response Center at 800-424-8802 to report any pollution incidents.

Operators with the Vessel Removal Hotline can be reached at 305-985-3744.

Members of the media interested in additional information are asked to contact the Joint Information Center at 305-985-2867.

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