September 2018 Incidents: Fiscal Year Ends with Over 200 Spill Responses

Posted Thu, 10/04/2018 - 18:13
An aerial view of an oil sheen stretching across a river shoreline.
Images taken during on overflight on Sept. 6 and 7 show a visible oil sheen from a diesel oil spill near Port Reading, New Jersey. Image credit: U.S. Coast Guard

Every month our Emergency Response Division provides scientific expertise and services to the U.S. Coast Guard on everything from running oil spill trajectories to model where the spill may spread, to possible effects on wildlife and fisheries, and estimates on how long the oil may stay in the environment.

This month OR&R responded to 15 incidents, including oil discharges, sunken vessels, and hazardous material releases. During the 2018 fiscal year, OR&R responded to 201 spills — the second highest total in our team’s history and the second year in a row we’ve had more than 200 incidents.

Here are some of September’s notable incidents:

5,000 Gallon Diesel Spill in New Jersey

On Sept. 6, 2018, the U.S. Coast Guard notified OR&R about a diesel fuel spill that occurred at the Buckeye Terminal in Port Reading, New Jersey. The fuel resulted from a a mechanical failure during a barge loading operation and had a reported spill volume of 5,000 gallons. However, due to high winds and rain at the time of the incident, facility personnel were unable to calculate the exact amount of fuel spilled into the waterway.  

Responders used pollution boom to contain the majority of the oil adjacent to the facility, as well as sorbents and skimmers to collect the oil. Coast Guard Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Technique (SCAT) teams inspected the adjacent shorelines for oil. There were no reports of any oiled wildlife. A mechanical failure with one of the pumps occurred while oil was being transferred from an above ground storage tank to a barge docked at the pier.

As of Thursday morning, Sept. 13, an estimated 53,000 gallons of oily product had been recovered during cleanup operations. Approximately 6,500 feet of boom was deployed to protect sensitive sites and contain the diesel.

According to a Coast Guard press release, the Marine Transportation System in the Port of New York and New Jersey was affected as the spill contaminated areas of the the Arthur Kill waterway, creating a domino effect leading to multiple vessels being diverted and two facilities impacted. Numerous vessels as well a second fuel facility on the Arthur Kill have been decontaminated and have also resumed operations.

The Coast Guard is continuing to work with the Environmental Protection Agency and state agencies for cleanup and assessment. For more information, view the latest Coast Guard press release.

Hurricane Florence

A hotline for potential incidents was created in advance of Hurricane Florence on Sept. 9, 2018. As of last week, the U.S. Coast Guard pollution task force had identified more than 200 vessels in North Carolina that were impacted by the hurricane. This number is expected to grow as initial assessments continue.

Visit our latest story for more information on the pollution mitigation efforts following Hurricane Florence.

Vessel Catches Fire on Mississippi River near Arkansas

A vessel in the water on fire.
The Jacob Kyle Rusthoven caught fire on the lower Mississippi River near West Haven, Arkansas. Image credit: U.S. Coast Guard.

On Sept. 12, 2018, the National Response Center received a report of a potential discharge of 13,300 gallons (approximately 316.7 barrels) of diesel fuel in the Lower Mississippi River near Helena, Arkansas. A tanker vessel carrying nine loaded rock barges caught fire, though no sheen has been reported at this time.

The crew of the Jacob Kyle Rusthoven abandoned ship and were retrieved by a nearby vessel. Three of the nine barges broke free in the river. The vessel was pushed into the river bank and the nine barges were recovered by nearby vessels.

Here is the complete list of last month’s incidents, click on the links to find out more: