Diesel spill at St. Augustine marina being investigated as act of vandalism

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A diesel fuel spill at a St. Augustine marina is being investigated as an act of vandalism, News4JAX learned Friday.

According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, more than 150 gallons of fuel from a boat was dumped into the harbor earlier this month.

Marina employees told investigators they believe it was about money or could have been an act of revenge, according to an incident report from the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

“I mean it’s just not fair. It’s really not fair. It’s kind of like sickening to hear that,” said Rivers Willis, a boater who lives in St. Johns County.

A marina employee told deputies that morning she found a water hose in a boat’s fuel tank. The tank was topped off with water, pushing the diesel inside of it into the harbor.

“This is a very special place, so it’s very sad to hear,” said Robert Rose. “Hopefully that can be resolved very quickly because we all know the marine environment is a very delicate environment.”

When talking to investigators, the employee said: “There is no purpose for running a hose to the gas tank other than causing damage to the boat.”

According to the report, a deckhand also told deputies that the afternoon before — he was approached by a man in a mechanic’s outfit.

The report says the man told the deckhand he was there to work on the boat, but the deckhand advised him it had a new owner and he would not be working on it.

The man then left, and the next morning is when the mess was discovered.

The DEP responded, using absorbency pads to clean up the diesel.

News4JAX spoke with the owner of the boat that was vandalized. He said he’s now having to pay thousands of dollars in fines because of what someone else did. On top of that, he said, his boat sustained thousands of dollars in damage.

About the Author:

Renee Beninate is a Florida native and award-winning reporter who joined the News4Jax team in June 2021.