By Stacey Cato
Multiple coast agencies responded to a fuel leak at the Pass Christian Harbor Wednesday morning, officials said, after a 56″ wooden vessel began taking in water.
At about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday morning officials were notified of a large shrimp boat beginning to submerge. Pass Christian Harbor Master Willie Davis said harbor staff members immediately took action in an attempt to stop the leak of oil and diesel through the old harbor’s water.
Boat owner and captain James “Catfish” Miller was visibly grief stricken as he watch his shrimp boat partially submerge in the Gulf. He told the Gazebo Gazette he used the boat as a means for work. He had been a fisherman since the early 1990’s, he said, and has heavily relied on “Capt. Quintinn,” his boat, to help him gather his catch.
“It’s just a tragedy,” he said in a state of shock as he stood onside his sunken ship.
Pass Christian Fire Chief Dwight Gordon said his crew of first respondents arrived at the harbor around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning to initially began containment of the fuel. Gordon said, The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality arrived a short time later to take over the scene.
DEQ On-site Coordinator Nick Hetten said his department began the clean-upprocess around 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday.
“We do not know exactly how much of the fuel leaked out,” Hetten said. “We do know the vessel carried about 800 gallons on board but not all escaped.”
Officials, he said, have placed two containment booms in the affected area to control the leak along with absorbent pads to soak up any fluids.
No other boats at the harbor took on any damage and no wildlife was harmed, Hetten said.
Today, Coast Guard crews will attempt to figure out how to raise the large craft and haul it away.
The Department of Marine Patrol and Long Beach First Responders assisted Pass Christian and DEQ officials at the scene. No major safety concerns were reported by press time Thursday.
The cause of the sunken ship remains under investigation.