A fishing boat ran aground Tuesday morning and spilled diesel fuel from a breached hull about seven miles off Key West, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
The boat was carrying 2,000 gallons of diesel, but it was unclear Tuesday afternoon how much was in the water.
“It’s a very slow leak,” said Coast Guard spokeswoman Karrie Jeffries. “It wasn’t gushing out. We’re working with the weather and the seas to go back out there today. There’s not going to be someone there 24 hours a day.”
Coast Guard Key West received the report of the vessel, the San Diego, at about 8:46 a.m. and launched a 45-foot-long response boat to the jetty in the Northwest Channel, according to a press release.
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At the scene, four people were removed from the boat.
The cause of the incident is under investigation. A pollution response team from Coast Guard Sector Key West was still on the scene at about 1:30 p.m.
The next step is to return to the scene at 6 p.m. and try to deploy a boom to contain the spill, said Jeffries.
TowBoatUS has been hired to clean up the spill.
The condition of the fishing vessel is being checked by the federal on-scene coordinator and marine inspectors from Sector Key West.
“Our primary concern here is the safety of the boating public, pollution responders, and contractors; all while protecting the environment,” said Lt. Quentin Long, Incident Management Division Chief of Sector Key West, in a statement.
“We are working under our Area Contingency Plan and coordinating efforts with federal, state, and trustee resources to assess and contain the discharge of oil as well as minimize the impact on environmentally sensitive ecosystems that we have here in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary,” Long added.