Booms deployed to contain fuel leaking into Oregon Inlet from swamped tug boat

Just a small portion of the Miss Bonnie's hull is now visible after it was swamped on Sunday. [USCG Station Oregon Inlet]

The tug boat that was swamped in Oregon Inlet Sunday morning by waves from the coastal storm while trying to secure a barge that broke free is now leaking diesel fuel.

The Coast Guard said a sheen on the surface of the inlet was reported around 10 a.m. Monday, southwest of where the Miss Bonnie was wedged against the southern end of the closed Herbert C. Bonner Bridge.

An estimated 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel was on board the Miss Bonnie, according to a Coast Guard press release.

Booms have been deployed by the tug’s operators and they will be undertaking additional clean-up efforts as seas drop in the inlet.

The Coast Guard is working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Scientific support coordinator to identify the most likely trajectory of the discharged diesel to determine necessary mitigation strategies for the preventative impact to environmentally sensitive areas.

The sheen of diesel fuel was floating into the Pamlico Sound towards the northwest shoreline of Pea Island. [USCG photo]

“Protecting the marine environment is a top priority for the Coast Guard,” said Capt. Bion Stewart, commander of Coast Guard Sector North Carolina. “We are overseeing the responsible party’s actions to mitigate environmental impacts resulting from the discharge and to remove the vessel when it is safe to do so.”

Involved in the response are Coast Guard Sector North Carolina Marine Safety Detachment, PCL Construction, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and National Park Service

After the Miss Bonnie ran into trouble trying to secure the loose barge, another tug was able to come alongside and rescue the seven crewmembers. No one was hurt.

The incident has brought back memories of October 1990, when a section north of the Bonner’s navigation span collapsed after being struck by a dredge that broke anchor during a nor’easter.

That knocked out power and telephone lines, isolating Hatteras and Ocracoke islands from the rest of the Outer Banks until temporary ferries across the inlet were launched and the bridge could be repaired.

While the southern end is being converted into a fishing pier, the rest of the old bridge that was replaced by the Marc Basnight Bridge in February is being demolished.

The remains are being transported to a pair of artificial reefs offshore.

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