Coast Guard and Florida FWC salvaging polluting boats after Irma

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Petty Officer 1st Class Tonya Mulhern (left) and Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Hewlett, both Coast Guard marine science technicians, assess damage that Hurricane Irma caused to a boat in Jacksonville, Fla. Federal and state teams are assessing pollution risks from hundreds of sunken or damaged boats.

Petty Officer 1st Class Tonya Mulhern (left) and Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Hewlett, both Coast Guard marine science technicians, assess damage that Hurricane Irma caused to a boat in Jacksonville, Fla. Federal and state teams are assessing pollution risks from hundreds of sunken or damaged boats.

Federal and state agencies are assessing environmental damage caused by hundreds of damaged or sunken vessels after Hurricane Irma struck Sept. 13.

The Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission members have assessed more than 800 boats in parts of Florida and are salvaging those that pose an immediate threat to the environment.

“The response to Irma is a collaborative effort,” Benjamin Franco, Environmental Protection Agency incident commander for the response, said in a statement. “Every member of this team, both local, state and federal, is bringing to bear all of their expertise, experience and the assets necessary for an expeditious conclusion to this response.

“Our hearts go out to those citizens impacted by Hurricane Irma and we will make every effort to ensure their needs are being addressed,” Franco said.

“This command has found that all sunk and derelict vessels resulting from Hurricane Irma are a threat to the environment and our mission is to remove this threat,” said Cmdr. JoAnne Hanson, Coast Guard incident commander for the response. “The first priority is to remove actively polluting vessels. Second to that are the vessels that aren’t actively polluting, but where a potential for pollution exists.”

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