Sinking vessel
closes Bellows

Cleanup crews are working
to contain possible fuel spills

The Air Force has closed Bellows Beach for up to the next four days as an environmental cleanup and salvage company collects debris and contains diesel fuel that may have leaked from a swamped catamaran.

The catamaran broke apart and both of its 110-gallon-capacity fuel tanks washed ashore, but how much fuel was in them is unknown, said Coast Guard spokeswoman Chief Petty Officer Marsha Delaney.

The Coast Guard is monitoring the vessel and the area for pollution. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources also responded to the incident.

Fire, Ocean Safety and Coast Guard personnel rescued six people yesterday afternoon from the 80-foot catamaran, Hokunani.

The catamaran began taking on water after it was hit by a wave about a half-mile off Bellows Beach, Delaney said.

The Coast Guard received the initial distress call at 12:43 p.m. on Channel 16, the marine band radio's hailing distress frequency.

A Coast Guard helicopter was dispatched and the crew lowered pumps to the boat.

The weather was rough, with 8-foot seas and 42 mph winds, according to the Coast Guard.

Fire Capt. Kenison Tejada said one passenger wanted to get off the boat immediately, while five people remained on board.

But despite the pumps, the boat continued to take on too much water, and they decided to evacuate, Tejada said.

Ocean Safety rescuers brought some of the people to shore on water craft, while a fire rescue boat brought the rest in, he said. The boat owner has hired Penco to salvage the catamaran and to contain any possible pollution, Delaney said.

Penco was on scene yesterday afternoon and put out a boom to prevent any spread of diesel fuel from the tanks. It also pumped out the fuel remaining in the tanks, Delaney said.

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