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Shipping lanes in Tampa Bay reopened

MANATEE — Shipping lanes were reopened about 10:50 a.m. today after being closed overnight and early this morning due to a two-boat collision late Thursday that caused a diesel spill.

Operations in the Tampa Bay area between Port Manatee and the Port of Tampa were temporarily suspended due to the collision, believed caused by heavy fog around 7:50 p.m.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, an 80-foot fishing trawler named Marion L out of Alabama collided with the 95-foot deck barge Coastal in Cut B of the main shipping channel, more than three miles from Port Manatee in Hillsborough County.

Ship traffic south of the Big Bend power plant north of Appolo Beach was halted in the main shipping channel but has since been reopened along with the Port Manatee harbor channel which leads directly to the port from the main channel.

Port Manatee spokeswoman Jill VanderPol said to her knowledge, there has been no economic impact to the port.

The collision caused a 48-inch gash to the starboard side of the Marion L, resulting in about 800-1,000 gallons of diesel fuel leaking from the 4,000 gallon tank into the bay.

The ship leak has been secured and a boom was being deployed to protect environmentally sensitive areas.

The Coast Guard, along with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, responded to the scene.

Heavy fog hindered Coast Guard assessment of the spill impact earlier this morning. The visibility was less than a tenth of a mile and officials are hoping when the fog clears a better investigation will be possible.

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