By Cindy Lane
Cleanup crews vacuum some of the 900 gallons of
oil that spilled into the water at Port Manatee
SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE
sun staff writer
PORT MANATEE An estimated 900 gallons of spilled
oil was discovered in Tampa Bay at dawn on Monday morning
as it was being loaded from a barge berthed at Port Manatee
to a pipeline bound for a storage tank.
The spill was halted on Monday morning in a dockside valve
pit where oil is off-loaded, said Mel Klein, a spokesman
for Florida Power & Light, which was shipping the
Number 6 fuel oil to its Manatee Energy Center in Parrish.
By dusk, about 400 gallons remained in Tampa Bay, he said.
Oil also was reported in the shipping channel. Klein said
it was unclear whether the winds and tides had swept any
oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
By Monday evening, it was too early to tell whether the
spilled oil had drifted to seagrass beds in nearby Bishop
Harbor and Cockroach Bay, said Chris Rossbach, emergency
response manager for the Tampa office of the Florida Department
of Environmental Protection.
The cause of the spill has yet to be determined. No injuries
The spill, which occurred just east of a man-made bird
nesting island known as Manbirdy Island, is small compared
to the 330,000 gallons of Number 6 fuel oil and 32,000
gallons of jet, diesel fuel and gasoline spilled in 1993
when three barges collided in Tampa Bay, Rossbach said.
"Any amount is serious for all of us," Klein
said, adding that the estimate could change as more information
The U.S. Coast Guard is monitoring cleanup operations,
which included trapping some of the spilled oil with 2,200
feet of absorbent floating containment booms and vacuuming
it from the surface, Lt. Commander Steven Lang said.