Coast Guard working to recover sunken BART barge in San Francisco Bay

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU and BCN) -- Divers this morning checked to see whether fuel was leaking again from a barge that capsized early Friday morning in San Francisco Bay south of the Bay Bridge, a U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman said.

Divers are preparing a report on their dive to the 112-foot freight barge Vengeance but as of 1 p.m. the results were not available.

Also, this morning, a crew flew over Vengeance and saw minimal diesel fuel on the water.

The U.S. Coast Guard was working with BART crews on Friday to recover a barge that apparently sunk into the San Francisco Bay sometime overnight and is leaking diesel fuel and oil south of the Bay Bridge, authorities said.

Crews were attempting to raise the 112-foot freight barge, which has the potential of releasing 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 300 gallons of lube oil, the Coast Guard said in a written statement.

The Coast Guard has activated a safety zone in the area but the agency said no shoreline or wildlife impact has been reported so far. No injuries have been reported. Marine safety information has also been communicated to local mariners.

BART officials said the barge, named Vengeance, was operating under a maintenance and engineering contract for the transit agency. The vessel is typically moored at Treasure Island, BART officials said in a written statement.

National Response Corporation Emergency Services, a private company, has deployed 3,000 feet of boom around the barge to keep the spill contained, Wilson said.

A contractor hired to help clean up the spill must first get the petroleum products off the barge before trying to refloat it.

"We are gonna work as quickly as we can and a safely as we can with with Global Diving and the (Responsible Party) to remove it" said Francis Schiano, a Coast Guard official.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Office of Spill Prevention and Response is assisting with the cleanup efforts, the Coast Guard said.

"So far, we haven't seen any visibly oiled wildlife," said Eric Laughlin of the California Fish and Wildlife Response Center. "We do have crews out there monitoring for them so if we do see them we'll actually activate the Wildlife Oil Care Network."

The ship is part of work that is periodically done to provide cathodic protection to the Transbay Tube, a project that is designed to deter tube corrosion. 

Transit agency officials said no crews were working on the ship when it sank. The agency also said engineers had inspected the tube and nothing abnormal has been found.

The Coast Guard has set aside $50,000 from its oil-spill liability trust fund to use for cleaning up the spill, Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer Sarah Wilson said.

KTVU reporter Tom Vacar, Bay City News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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