Aban­doned boat spills fuel in river

Two own­ers charged with leav­ing ves­sel in Patux­ent as Coast Guard con­tin­ues to clean up pol­luted site

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By TAY­LOR DEVILLE tdev­ille@somd­news.com

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.

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