Coast Guard: No impacts to wildlife after swamped tug boat began leaking diesel

Coast Guard members oversee the salvage of the tugboat Miss Bonnie near Nags Head, N.C., Nov. 21, 2019. The vessel was overturned by severe weather, which also caused the release of diesel into the environment. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Christopher Fisher.

The Coast Guard is monitoring the salvage of a semi-submerged tugboat responsible for a discharge of diesel fuel in the vicinity of the old Bonner Bridge in Oregon Inlet.

The Miss Bonnie was swamped Sunday morning by waves from this weekend’s nor’easter while trying to secure a barge that broke free. It was soon discovered the boat was leaking diesel into the inlet.

Coast Guard members oversee the salvage of the tugboat Miss Bonnie near Nags Head, N.C., Nov. 21, 2019. The vessel was overturned by severe weather, which also caused the release of diesel. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Christopher Fisher.

The sheen resulting from the submersion was monitored and collected by crews contracted by the responsible party.

The Coast Guard has overseen the deployment of 2,500 feet of sorbent boom and 1,600 feet of containment boom around the vessel to prevent any further spillage.

There have been no reports of impacts to wildlife at this time and the channel remains open to all vessel traffic, the Coast Guard said in a Thursday news release.

“We’re taking every precaution to ensure that the salvage process is as safe as it can be for all involved,” said Lt. Chris Fisher, Supervisor for Coast Guard Detached Duty Nags Head. “We’re also dedicated to making sure that any additional discharge of fuel is captured and collected before it can impact the environment.”

Lt. Christopher Fisher (left) discusses the on-going salvage operation of the tugboat Miss Bonnie with Petty Officer 2nd Class Noah Lighthart (right) near Nags Head, N.C., Nov. 21, 2019. The vessel was overturned by severe weather, which also caused the release of diesel into the environment. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Wereda.

Currently, the approved salvage plan calls for the vessel to be dewatered and towed to a harbor of safe refuge where the responsible party can develop a suitability for tow plan before further movement.

The Coast Guard said a sheen on the surface of the inlet was reported around 10 a.m. Monday, southwest of where the Miss Bonnie was wedged against the southern end of the closed Herbert C. Bonner Bridge.

Involved in the response are Coast Guard Sector North Carolina Marine Safety Detachment, PCL Construction, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and National Park Service

After the Miss Bonnie ran into trouble trying to secure the loose barge, another tug was able to come alongside and rescue the seven crewmembers. No one was hurt.

The incident has brought back memories of October 1990, when a section north of the Bonner’s navigation span collapsed after being struck by a dredge that broke anchor during a nor’easter.

That knocked out power and telephone lines, isolating Hatteras and Ocracoke islands from the rest of the Outer Banks until temporary ferries across the inlet were launched and the bridge could be repaired.

While the southern end is being converted into a fishing pier, the rest of the old bridge that was replaced by the Marc Basnight Bridge in February is being demolished.

The remains are being transported to a pair of artificial reefs offshore.

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.