Coast Guard: More than 100 boats release pollutants into waterways after Sally

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PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Hundreds of boats broke free from their moorings during Hurricane Sally. Officials say some of those boats are now causing environmental concerns.

This week, the U.S. Coast Guard transitioned its Hurricane Sally response efforts to pollution cleanup and salvaging operations.

A media release from the Coast Guard says it has identified more than 100 boats that have discharged pollution into local waterways.

“It’s important to understand the gravity of this situation. We have identified more than 100 vessels actively releasing pollution into the marine environment,” said Cmdr. Kelly Thorkilson, Coast Guard Hurricane Sally incident commander, in a media release. “We need to continue to work closely with the community and partner agencies to ensure the cleanup process is conducted safely and effectively.”

The Coast Guard says most of the boats releasing pollution have been contained.

As previously reported by WKRG News 5, water pollution has been a concern in Northwest Florida since oil washed along Johnson Beach over the weekend.

The Coast Guard is still awaiting test results to find out where exactly the oil came from, but with boats still in the water, officials don’t want the pollution to get any worse.

“If (boat owners have) insurance, get those claims initiated as soon as possible,” said Chief Petty Office Jeremy Thomas, who oversaw cleanup efforts near Joe Patti’s seafood shop. “I do understand that a fair number of boat owners do not have insurance on their vessels. At that point, do some outreach to a company that can, if nothing else, remove the fuel and oil and other hazardous substance threat from their vessels.”

The Coast Guard is working with the National Park Service and other federal agencies to address the clean up process and reduce environmental impacts.

Officials say it’s important to report lost or abandoned boats to local law enforcement.

You can report them to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation at ‪1-888-404-3922‬ or the Alabama Marine Patron Division at 334-517-2950.

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