Abandoned boat spills fuel in river
Two owners charged with leaving vessel in Patuxent as Coast Guard continues to clean up polluted site
Officials from Naval Air Station Patuxent River confirmed in a Tuesday statement that a sheen of fuel spanning 100 by 300 feet near a partially submerged civilian craft in the Patuxent River had leaked from the boat, which has been anchored in the water since June.
The leakage was first noticed by NAS Pax River port operations last Tuesday morning, after the boat had been reported in The Enterprise the week
before. After deploying a 1,000foot containment boom and monitoring the vessel, “it’s clear to see that the oil or hazardous substances leak is coming from it,” David Wick, NAS Pax River port operations installation program director, said in a release.
“If we didn’t place a boom around this vessel, the wind would have pushed the OHS to Solomons’ shores and caused an even greater environmental impact than occurred.”
The U.S. Coast Guard collected the leakage with absorbent pads on Aug. 30, and is continu- ing its efforts to clean up the leaching. An estimated time of completion for the cleanup is not yet known, a public affairs officer for the U.S. Coast Guard National Capital Region said.
The boat owners, Ronald Ferry of Aldie, Va., and Jared Russell of Takoma Park, have been charged with abandoning a vessel in state waters and littering over 500 pounds. Anyone found guilty of vessel abandonment in Maryland can be liable for a fine not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment for up to six months, or both.
Ferry did not respond to a request for comment this week. Russell said he had “no comment” on the OHS leaching from the boat, whether he was pursuing any efforts to remove the vessel or about the charges being brought against him for abandonment of the boat.
Last week, Russell told The Enterprise that multiple agencies had previously inspected the boat, a decommissioned Navy yard patrol vessel, and informed him that no fuel was on the boat.
The boat, removed from Calvert Marina earlier this year after the owners failed to renew the boat’s insurance, was left in the Patuxent River in June by Sea-Tow Southern Maryland, a boat towing service.
Sea-Tow did not fulfill its contract to haul the vessel to Washington, D.C., because they were not equipped to account for the boat’s size, Phillip Robinson, general manager for Sea-Tow Southern Maryland, previously told The Enterprise.
Last week, Russell told The Enterprise he had intended to haul the boat to Washington where it could be used to provide a food service or for a youth organization, and they were in conversation with members of Earth Conservation Corps to be utilized in efforts to clean up the Anacostia River.
That was before the boat began sinking last month, after, Russell suspects, an unidentified person removed the boat’s hatch “with a plasma cutter,” he said.
Natural resources police will not file any additional charges against the owners for the OHS leeching, natural resources public information officer Candy Thomson said. “If there are to be other charges, they will have to come from [Maryland Department of the Environment] or the Coast Guard.”
A spokesperson for the Coast Guard declined to comment on whether any charges will be brought against the owners. MDE communications deputy director Jay Apperson said he would not comment on possible charges in this specific case, but that MDE was aware of the leaching and “generally speaking,” identified responsible parties could be liable for cleanup and mitigation.