Hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel spilled into Pensacola’s Bayou Chico on Tuesday, marking the latest setback for a bayou struggling to overcome more than a century of pollution.
The U.S. Coast Guard and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection both responded to the spill Tuesday afternoon near the entrance to Bayou Chico in Pensacola Bay.
According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, 100 gallons of diesel spilled into the waters near downtown Pensacola. Officials estimated earlier the spill could have been as much as 250 gallons.
Officials said the spill occurred when an individual aboard a 50-foot vessel attempted to pump fuel out of a backup tank on the vessel.
“Emergency response crews are on scene today and the FDEP is overseeing the cleanup,” said Jess Boyd, spokesman for FDEP. “DEP will remain on scene to provide technical assistance to the contractor performing environmental cleanup.”
At the direction of the Coast Guard, the vessel owners hired SWS Environmental Services of Bay County, an environmental contractor, to respond to and cleanup the spill. Shortly after the incident, crews deployed sorbent boom to contain the spill around the vessel. On Wednesday morning, hard boom was placed along the western shore of the bayou and crews were attempting to recover the fuel using sorbent materials.
Bayou Chico is currently undergoing a decades-long cleanup as a result of industrial and commercial pollution of the waterway dating back to the 19th century. A study funded by fines resulting from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill is currently underway to determine the extent of pollution and contaminants that are buried beneath the sediment of the bayou.
It is not yet known if any enforcement actions will be taken against the owners of the vessel.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the vessel that caused the spill as a 50-foot houseboat. This story has been updated.