Investigation into massive oil spill at SeaPort Manatee continues

WWSB ABC7 News at 6pm
Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 6:34 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Congressman Vern Buchanan gave a stern warning Friday as investigators continue working to determine the responsible party for last week’s oil spill at SeaPort Manatee.

“We’ll get something worked out because someone can’t just walk away from this,” said Buchanan.

To date, the Coast Guard has removed at least 19,000 gallons of contaminated water.

“It’s very disappointing to me that someone would know 5 or 6,000 gallons of material and not report it. So we are going to be very, very tough in terms of the investigation and doing everything we can to hold them accountable,” said Buchanan.

An estimated 97% of the contaminated water is now cleaned out, but a lengthy investigation led by the U.S. Coast Guard still lies ahead.

Investigators are sending oil samples to be type-tested to assist in the investigation into the source and responsible party. The source could face penalties Commander Michael Kahle describes as substantial.

“There would be potential civil penalties against the person that was responsible for the discharge, and then they would be required to pay for the costs of the cleanup efforts,” said Kahle.

The Coast Guard says there isn’t a smoking gun when it comes to finding a guilty party, and an investigation like this takes time.

The silver lining of the spill however is that the movement of the wind and the sea kept the contaminated water inside the port’s walls. Only a single bird was directly affected, but has since been released.