ST. CROIX, U.S. Virgin Islands -- The U.S Army Corps of Engineers, in coordination with the Wilmington District's Contracting branch, has awarded a contract for Marine Debris Reduction and Off-Island Disposal, Jan.13.

The $6.3 million contract has been awarded to CERES Environmental Services, Inc., headquartered in Sarasota, Florida.

CERES is to provide reduction of marine debris from Debris Management Sites located at Sea Plane DMS in St. Croix and Red Hook DMS site located in the U.S. Virgin Island National Park on St. Thomas. The marine debris will be disposed off-island, along with construction and demolition debris collected on St. Thomas.

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is happy to be working with the DPNR and the U.S. Coast Guard to dispose of these derelict vessels in a safe and efficient way." Said Marine Debris Specialist Kim Pinkston, of the Louisville District.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria left more than 1 million cubic yards of debris in the U.S. Virgin Islands, including an estimated 400 marine vessels. More than 550,000 cubic yards of debris has been recovered from the USVI. The damaged or destroyed vessels are recovered by the U.S. Coast Guard and turned over to the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources for further processing. Once DPNR has completed their processing, the vessels are classified as marine debris and released to the Corps for reduction and later disposal off island.

The USACE debris removal and debris technical assistance mission is 71% complete.