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Sandy Ruptures Oil Tank, 350,000 Gallons Spilled

Oil from Saudi-Shell facility pours into New Jersey waterway

- Common Dreams staff

To add to the houses, cars, rats and general detritus that are now swirling around the region's waterways, a ruptured oil tank in New Jersey has added 349,000 gallons of diesel fuel to the mix.

Wednesday night, workers race to contain the 350,000 gallons of oil spilled at New Jersey's Motiva facility. (Screenshot taken from WNBC footage) The spill occurred Monday night at the Motiva Enterprises facility in Woodbridge, NJ after a storage tank burst open during megastorm Sandy. The Associated Press reports that the the oil spilled into the Arthur Kill, a narrow waterway separating New Jersey and Staten Island.

Workers were on hand Wednesday evening at the jointly-owned Shell and Saudi Refining Inc. storage facility, vacuuming up the diesel-and-water mixture and laying booms to contain the remainder of the spill.

The Huffington Post reported that a NOAA Scientific Support Coordinator was also present after the U.S. Coast Guard requested specific scientific support for "three separate oil spills in Arthur Kill" and an investigation into "reports of several orphan containers, and many potential hazmat targets." According to the NOAA, the "so-called 'products of concern' include 8,300 barrels—or about 349,000 gallons—of diesel, bio-diesel and slop oil."

The nearly 350 thousand gallons that has escaped into the Arthur Kill is significant. The Huffington Post cites the impact of similarly sized spills:

A barge collided with a tanker in the Mississippi River near New Orleans in 2008, resulting in a spill of more than 270,000 gallons of fuel oil that required months of cleanup. Less than a year earlier, a container ship hit the San Francisco Bay Bridge, resulting in a spill of 50,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil that coated wildlife.

Though the Coast Guard said that the spill is now contained, the federal government declared a public health emergency for New York warning residents to stear clear of waterways where raw sewage, industrial chemicals and other pollutants spilled over in the wake of Sandy.

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