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Manatee County port absolved of involvement in oil spill

The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its investigation after samples of oil from SeaPort Manatee didn't match that found in the spill.

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  • | 2:30 p.m. October 2, 2023
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The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its investigation of an oil spill discovered at SeaPort Manatee.
The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its investigation of an oil spill discovered at SeaPort Manatee.
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The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its efforts investigating the SeaPort Manatee oil spill that was first discovered Aug. 31, absolving the port from any involvement. 

The port samples collected for type testing didn’t match the oil found in the inner harbor, a press release states. While the coast guard was unable to pinpoint the source, it has suspended its investigation.

James Satcher, chairman of the Manatee County Port Authority, expressed his gratitude for the coast guard’s efforts in cleaning up and investigating the event. 

“While it is disappointing that the investigation could not pinpoint the origin of the material, we are reassured in our proactive response efforts and pleased to learn that it was not identified as coming from a Seaport Manatee-related source,” Satcher says in the release. 

The discoloration of water was found the day after Hurricane Idalia made landfall. After the port notified the coast guard, the St. Petersburg Coast Guard sector showed up to deploy booms, which are floating barriers used to contain oil spills. It was determined the discoloration was caused by refined oil.

As of Sept. 29, the oil was entirely removed and an endangered species analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that no fish or wildlife had been affected. 

During a Sept. 7 interview with the Business Observer, Executive Director Carlos Buqueras speculated that the oil could have come from anywhere since it happened after the hurricane, before adding he wasn’t sure if it was possible for a storm to wash in oil into the port. 

“It’s frustrating for us,” Buqueras says of the port’s involvement in the spill, “because we’re innocent bystanders in that we don’t handle the oil.” 

The port generates over $5.1 billion in economic impacts annually, according to the release, and provides over 37,000 direct and indirect jobs. 


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