Coast Guard shifts focus to pollution cleanup, salvage operations after Hurricane Sally

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(MOBILE, Ala.) — Coast Guard Sector Mobile Hurricane Sally response operations transitioned to a maritime environmental response Tuesday focusing on pollution cleanup and salvage operations.

Hurricane Sally caused extreme and widespread damage to commercial and recreational vessels, and public and private infrastructure across Alabama and Florida. As a result, the Coast Guard has responded to hundreds of pollution reports and began oversight of salvage operations.

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

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. Lost or abandoned vessels should be reported to local law enforcement offices to complete a “found property claim.”

Florida: Fish and Wildlife Conservation at (888) 404-3922.
Alabama: Alabama Marine Patrol Division at (334) 517-2950.

For questions regarding displaced, damaged or polluting vessels as a result of Hurricane Sally, call the Coast Guard at (251) 441-6240 or (251) 441-6340.

Additional areas of environmental pollution impact concerns include approximately a half-mile area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore on Johnson Beach, Perdido Key, Fla. The Coast Guard has assessed and collected samples from the area and are awaiting results. The Coast Guard is working with the National Park Service and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration to address cleanup operations and procedures to reduce environmental impact.

To report pollution, contact the National Response Center at (800) 424-8802.

– U.S. Coast Guard

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Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Jeremy Thomas, a marine science technician, oversees cleanup efforts at Joe Patti’s Seafood marina in Pensacola, Fla., on Sept. 26. U.S. Coast Guard photo
By Professional Mariner Staff