PALMETTO, Florida – SeaPort Manatee Executive Director Carlos Buqueras is issuing the following statement regarding U.S. Coast Guard response activities in the inner harbor of SeaPort Manatee:
“Like several ports in Florida, SeaPort Manatee was closed during Hurricane Idalia. On Thursday, Aug. 31, a few days after Hurricane Idalia made landfall, SeaPort Manatee was inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard as part of its normal inspection process required before a port can reopen its shipping lanes. SeaPort Manatee received an ‘all clear’ from the Coast Guard, and shipping traffic resumed. The morning of Aug. 31, the port noticed a visible discoloration within the port’s basin and notified the National Response Center. The Coast Guard inspected and didn’t set any restrictions on vessel operations.
“On Sept. 1, the U.S. Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg returned with its response team to deploy boom and begin the clean-up process. Since Aug. 31, SeaPort Manatee’s team has been proactively collaborating with the Coast Guard to assist in response activities.
“Preserving the environment is among our top priorities, which is why we have fully continued partnering with the Coast Guard. We have also encouraged tenant businesses at the port to cooperate with the Coast Guard.
“The Coast Guard has inspected every area of the port, yet to date has been unable to identify the origin of the material. As part of the Coast Guard’s ongoing investigation, its officers have collected samples for type-testing, and we are hopeful its investigation will soon reveal the source.
“In the meantime, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration experts conducted an endangered species analysis of the area and reported no fish or wildlife is affected at this time.
“We are committed to being as transparent as possible with the public and will share new details as we learn them.
“We are sincerely thankful to our U.S. Coast Guard partners for springing into action and for their ongoing efforts, and we look forward to a timely resolution.”