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Coast Guard investigates suspected Port Richey fuel spill

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PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) — The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating a suspected fuel spill that occurred in the area of Miller’s Bayou in Port Richey.

People in the area reported a strong odor in the air at around 3:00 a.m.

“I woke up this morning, opened the shop and you could definitely smell fuel in the air,” said Melinda Maghan, who runs a bait shop in the area.

Andy Wilcox also lives in the area and first thought the fuel was leaking from his own boat that had recently been worked on.

“I was really scared to hit my ignition key, because I could smell the smell and thinking, did they rupture a fuel line, am I going to hit the ignition key and it’s going to explode?” said Wilcox.

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After seeing the fuel was not leaking from his boat, but was just in the water around his home, he then became concerned about the long term impact.

“I live on the water. I crab on the water. I fish on the water. I’ve got some really good friends who are stone crabbers and stone crabbing is a very sustainable business, so does this affect that? I’m sure it does somehow,” said Wilcox, who also said he will be careful about what he eats for the next few months.

“I’m not going to be eating crab from behind my house for quite a while. I’m going to take a six month break and let things cool down because I don’t want to eat a crab that’s tainted with petroleum,” said Wilcox.

The Port Richey Fire Chief said when first responders first went out to check out the report of a strong odor in the area, the smell was thick in the air when they first arrived.

“They had a very heavy, heavy odor. Some of them even mentioned their eyes were burning some,” said Chief Gary Policastri.

They then started investigating to see if they could find the source of the fuel in the water.

“But they were hampered because they had heavy fog and it was dark. So, they were trying from 3:00 in the morning until 8:00 this morning, searching every boat that we were aware of, every diesel location that we could think of and boats that we could think of from the shrimp boats to the gambling boats to and everything we could think of, we were doing all night long,” said Policastri.

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So far, investigators have not announced a confirmed cause of the fuel in the water.

“To this point, we still don’t know where it came from but we do know it was a significant leak,” said Policastri.

Source: WFLA

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