Home News Local news BARGE OIL SAMPLES TAKEN IN SPILL PROBE

BARGE OIL SAMPLES TAKEN IN SPILL PROBE

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Aug. 21, 2001 – When a U.S. Coast Guard inspector responded to a call and found an oil spill of unknown origin in Cruz Bay's cargo docking area Monday afternoon, he could not determine what caused it.
But in about 10 days he hopes to know where it came from — or at least where it didn't come from.
Petty Officer First Class Scott Howell, assigned to the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit on St. Thomas, said he received a call about the spill in what's commonly called "the Creek" from Troy Williams, a V.I. National Park protection ranger, at 3:30 p.m. Monday. At the scene, Howell said, he found "30 gallons of black bilge waste oil" floating on the surface of the water in a corner between the barge ramp and the U.S. Customs dock. No one has claimed responsibility for it.
Howell decided to collect samples from the oil spill and of the engine oil from each of the five barges that were operating at the site on Monday — Auto Transit, Capt. Vic, General II, Pi'ti Bleu and Roanoke — for laboratory comparison.
He said the samples will be analyzed by the Coast Guard Marine Safety Laboratory in Groton, Conn., using a device called a gas chromatograph. The objective is to try to find among the five barge oil samples a "chemical finger-print matching that of the oil sample taken from the water."
Lt. John V. Reinert, supervisor of the St. Thomas Coast Guard unit, said he expects to have the test results "within 10 days." If the source of the oil spill is determined, he said, the guilty party can expect to receive a "bill for the cleanup and/or a fine of up to $27,500."
Reinert said the spill was cleaned up Monday in a voluntary operation directed by Cheryl Boynes-Jackson, vice president of Boyson Inc., which owns the Auto Transit, General II and Pi'ti Bleu. The volunteers utilized a Coast Guard stockpile of floating "oleophilic adsorbent rolls" to take up the oil from the water and hold it for disposal as hazardous waste. Reinert said assistance also was provided by Caneel Bay shipyard personnel.

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