Nov 28 2004

Delaware spill leaves 20 mile slick

Once again, an oil spill from a tanker is making front page news. The ship involved is the Tsakos Group's Athos I, a 1983-built , 60,880 dwt, double-sided tanker.

According to an official Coast Guard release, the Athos I, a Cyprus flagged vessel, lost an estimated 30,000 gallons of heavy crude oil as it was en route to the Citgo facility in Paulsboro, N.J., at approximately 9:15 p.m, Friday. Two tugs were helping the tanker move to the pier when it listed eight-degrees to the left and lost power.

The source of the loss was secured and authorities were notified. Coast Guard Personnel from Marine Safety Office-Group Philadelphia as well as personnel and resources from New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, United States Environmental Protection Agency, New Jersey State Police, representatives from the ship's owner and Citgo are all cooperating to ensure the clean-up of the spill as well as minimizing any impact to the environment.

Thousands of feet of protective boom are set up around the vessel and neighboring creeks as a preventive measure to contain further impact to the river and wildlife.

"Any amount of oil in our waterways is a serious matter and we are working hard to clean it up and ensure that the Delaware River is open to commerce," said Captain Jonathan Sarubbi, Captain of the Port of Philadelphia.

Boats and helicopters from the Coast Guard as well as New Jersey State Police are assessing the quantity and impact of the oil spill. The public is urged to call the Coast Guard at (215) 271-4807 if they see any impacted wildlife.

Contracted for clean-up operations are Miller Environmental, Delaware River and Bay Co-Op and Clean Ventures. Clean-up operations began Friday night and are ongoing.

The cause of the spill is under ongoing investigation by MSO Philadelphia, says the Coast Guard.

Press reports quote U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials as saying 50 birds were dead, 300 others were affected and fish were threatened. A stretch of the river was closed to commercial and recreational traffic while the spill was being cleaned up.

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