Coast Guard says barge spilled less than a gallon of fuel in San Francisco Bay

Less than a gallon of fuel spilled into the Bay from a barge that was intentionally run aground on San Francisco’s waterfront Tuesday morning, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

A tugboat captain piloting a 230-foot barge reported the vessel’s engine room began taking on water around 7:30 a.m. The captain ran the vessel aground near San Francisco’s St. Francis Yacht Club to prevent it from sinking and possibly causing an environmental disaster, company officials said.

Click on the photo to the right to view a slideshow of the barge accident.

The barge had the capacity to hold 4,800 gallons of diesel fuel, hydraulic fuel and lube oil, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Laura Williams said.

However, less than a gallon of fuel spilled, Williams said. The leak appeared to be residual fuel from the engine room that took on water, she said.

The damaged barge has since been moved to port in Oakland.

Moving the barge required the help of two other barges, Williams said. The vessel was transporting sand for a dredging operation. The sand weighed the boat down.  To lighten the load, a crane barge scooped up the sand and loaded it onto a third barge. Once the damaged barge was light enough to float, the tugboat pushed it to Oakland, Williams said.

Investigators are probing how the vessel became damaged, she said.

A crane barge remained near the yacht club Wednesday morning. It will be moved once the weather permitted, Williams said.

Spokeswoman Joan McCoy of barge operator Foss Maritime Co. said the tugboat captain ran the barge aground so that “fuel and other oil could be removed from the barge without it sinking.”

A small sheen of oil was spotted on the water and boom was deployed around the barge to contain any leaking fuel, Williams said.

Coast Guard pollution investigators and a 25-foot response boat were at the scene of the grounding most of the day. No injuries were reported.

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