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U.S. COAST GUARD REPORTS SIGNIFICANT ADVANCES IN CONDADO CLEAN-UP OPERATIONS

 SAN JUAN, P.R., Jan. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- At a 2:00 p.m. (Puerto Rico time) press conference, the U.S. Coast Guard reported that they had recovered most of the oil spilled from the Morris J. Berman barge which ran aground off San Juan on January 7.
 The barge was towed away on January 15 and sunk by the U.S. Coast Guard approximately 16 miles from shore.
 Commander Robert Ross said that significant improvements can be expected with the clean-up operation over the next few days.
 "We've been uniquely successful in recovering the oil from the spill because of the natural shape of the shore line where the barge went aground. This is a natural catchment, or basin, that created a pocket for much of the spilled oil. It really worked to our advantage," Commander Ross reported.
 According to Jacqui Michel of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: "The near-shore oil is almost all gone and now we can really emphasize the shore clean-up."
 The oil spill occurred during one of Puerto Rico's strongest tourism seasons yet has had little or no effect on visitor arrivals. Hotel occupancy for the month of January is three percent ahead of this time last year, according to Luis Fortuno, Executive Director for the Puerto Rico Tourism Company.
 "It's gratifying to hear that we are moving into the final stages of the clean-up. This is very reassuring report that we heard today from the environmental specialists," Mr. Fortuno said.
 The barge hit the reef near the Condado area, one of San Juan's popular tourist areas, affecting the beaches of three hotels: the Caribe Hilton, the Radisson Normandie and the Condado Plaza Hotel. While the hotels remain open, these beaches are closed as clean-up operations continue. It is hoped that the beaches may be re-opened in a few weeks. Until then, a shuttle bus transport service has been provided by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company to ferry guests from the affected hotels, and the Regency, the Condado Beach, and La Concha hotels to some of the island's many beautiful beaches.
 -0- 1/17/94
 /CONTACT: Joyce Martin or Gareth Edmondson-Jones, both of Hill and Knowlton, Inc., 212-697-5600 or 212-210-8884/


CO: Puerto Rico Tourism Company ST: IN: LEI SU:

TM -- NY101 -- 1497 01/17/94 18:03 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 17, 1994
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