Shrimp boat blamed for diesel in river

Boat's owner says tanks not leaking

Published On: Jun 21 2012 04:26:00 PM EDT   Updated On: Jun 21 2012 10:10:25 PM EDT
MAYPORT, Fla. -

Residents who live along the St. Johns River across from Mayport say they can smell diesel fuel in the air and see a sheen on the water.

They say it all leads to a old shrimp boat docked near the mouth of Shad Creek that's leaking fuel into the river, and residents say no one is taking responsibility.

"They've been pumping their bilge with oil and grease straight into the river, and no one is doing anything," said Richard Woodward, who lives across the street from where the boat is docked in Mayport.

Woodward said the problem started Monday. He called the Coast Guard and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to go check out the situation, but he said there's been no response.

"It makes me mad," Woodward said. "We pay a premium to live here, and no results from anyone. There's an old boat with out-of-date registration that for days has been dumping pollutants into the water and no one cares."

Lukmon Abgur-Rahim owns the boat in question. He denies there's a leak.

"There is diesel in the tank, but the engine is not running. The tanks are not leaking," Abgur-Rahim said.

When he was shown oil found in the water, he pointed his finger at other boats. He said if his ship were to blame, the Coast Guard would have done something.

"If there was diesel involved, they would have a write-up and they'd be all over me," Abgur-Rahim said. "I've been here three weeks, and they would not have given me this much slack."

Abgur-Rahim said he's working to repair his boat so he can get to Brunswick, Ga., and put it in dry dock. He plans to ship out in three weeks.

Woodward said for him, time has run out.

"I want to see the oil cleaned up," he said.

The Coast Guard said it went out Monday and checked the water along the banks and in the river, and also checked the boat and didn't find anything leaking.

After a phone call from Channel 4 on Thursday, officials said they would be out investigating again.