Crews prep Mona freighter for removal
Response crews working to patch and plug the grounded freighter found extensive damage to the ship’s cargo hold this week. The damage consists of multiple large cracks and holes in the Jireh’s hull.
“Due to the extensive damage to the ship’s hull the structural integrity of the ship has been compromised,” said Coast Guard Capt. Drew Pearson, the federal on-scene coordinator.
Response crews are removing sections of the ship to reduce the weight, protect the hull and increase buoyancy before refloating and sinking the vessel. The sections being removed from the Jireh are being placed on a barge and taken to a recycling center in Puerto Rico for proper disposal.
“Much of the damage appears to be from before the ship grounded and has been aggravated by unfavorable weather conditions throughout the response,” said Pearson.
If the Jireh cannot be refloated response contractors will continue to disassemble the vessel and deliver it to a recycling center in Puerto Rico for proper disposal.
“Response crews are continuing their work with diligence always aware of the need to minimize the impacts to environment on Mona Island and the waters surrounding this Natural Reserve,” said Daniel J. Galán Kercadó, secretary of Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER).
The DNER manages uninhabited Mona Island as a nature reserve.
The removal operation has been hampered by several storms that required response crews to return to the main island of Puerto Rico.
The Jireh ran aground on Mona Island on June 21 with 84 passengers and crew. Investigators have not been able to find the owners of the Honduran-flagged Jireh or what caused the crew to run the vessel aground. The passengers included 60 illegal Haitian migrants. Authorities have said the migrants reported they were headed to the French Caribbean island of St. Martin.
More than 5,000 gallons of oil/water mix and 600 tons of oiled cargo have been removed from the grounded freighter.
A unified command made up of the Coast Guard, the DNER, Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board and other federal, state and local response personnel are working together to safely remove the freighter Jireh from Mona Island.
All operations involving the Jireh are funded through the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Contributions to the OSLTF are made through a per barrel tax paid by oil companies as well as fines levied against companies who violate the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and other related laws.