MUSC: Fuel leak into Charleston Harbor caused by malfunctioning fuel pump

Charleston City Marina employee collecting oil spill boom
Charleston City Marina employee collecting oil spill boom


Officials at the Medical University of South Carolina say a diesel fuel leak into Charleston Harbor during the weekend was caused by a malfunctioning fuel generator atop the Institute of Psychiatry.

MUSC released a statement Monday afternoon stating that the rooftop generator apparently failed to shut off, and leaked fuel into a storm drain which emptied into Charleston Harbor.

According to officials, employees of MUSCĀ¹s physical plant turned off the generator when the leak was discovered during regular maintenance rounds, and the university notified the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control of the incident immediately.

MUSC says university officials are working to determine the cause of the generator malfunction and determine how much fuel was leaked.

Earlier in the day officials with the Coast Guard announced that they wrapped up their investigation into the source of the leak because there was no evidence of an ongoing leak. Over the weekend the mile long streak of thick, purple diesel-type pollution was seen in the waters of the Bristol, Ashley River and Charleston City Marinas.

A boater who keeps his vessel at one of the marinas first reported the pollution. Other boaters followed. Staff members at the Charleston City Marina say there is still a lot to clean-up.

The rainbow colored sheen can be seen covering the top of the water near the Ashley River draw bridges and the James Island Connector.

Marina employees have been using oil spill booms. The sponge-like material was put down to absorb the fuel that spilled Saturday night.The Coast Guard says the heaviest pockets of fuel are within the waters of the City Marina. Employees there say their fuel lines used by boaters have been inspected and cleared with the Coast Guard.

The staff says they won't be able to get all of the fuel because of the high winds and changing tide. A lot of the fuel is pooling in the corners of the docks and collecting in the seaweed along the shore.

The Coast Guard says so far there have been no reports on damage to the environment. They say fuel does not appear to be spreading outside of the marinas.

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