Coast Guard reopens Port of NY/NJ on limited basis

bayonneNOVEMBER 2, 2012—The U.S. Coast Guard has reopened the Port of New York and New Jersey to limited shipping traffic to allow tank barges carrying much-needed gasoline to the region.  The port had been closed since October 27 in anticipation of the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

Residents in New York and New Jersey have been frustrated with long gasoline lines at the handful of gasoline stations open in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. With the region still suffering from widespread power outages, many of the gasoline stations don't have the electricity to pump gas, even if they have the fuel.

In photo above, U.S. Coast Guard pollution responders assess damage to a pier near Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team New York in Bayonne, NJ, on Nov. 1. Below, a tanker was pushed aground on Staten Island by Hurricane Sandy. Coast Guard photos by Petty Officer 2nd Class Annie R. B. Elis 

In addition, Coast Guard pollution responders and damage assessment teams from Coast Guard Sector New York have been surveying New York Harbor in search of pollution sources, sunken vessels, and potential actionable discharge of oil or release of hazardous materials. The assessment teams continue to identify environmental and navigation hazards and work to mitigate damage as recovery efforts continue after Hurricane Sandy.tanker

One pollution incident the Coast Guard is continuing to respond to and oversee the clean is at the Motiva facility in Sewaren, NJ. 

Product and water is being recovered by vacuum trucks from the secondary containment area and pumped into a separate onsite storage tank. As of 4 p.m. yesterday, 151,200 gallons of oily water mixture had been recovered. This material includes product transferred from one of the damaged tanks, secondary containment and on water skimming operations.

The response has reported four oiled birds and notifications have been made to Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research.

Responders continue to contain and recover diesel fuel in the containment area around the storage tanks, in Woodbridge Creek, Smith’s Creek and the Motiva Terminal docks on the Arthur Kill Channel between Staten Island, NY, and New Jersey. Assessments of the surrounding waterways, creeks and community have been conducted. Contractors are working to remove contained pockets of oil in Smith’s Creek utilizing skimmers, vacuum trucks, absorbent pads, and absorbent boom. Additional cleanup actions are ongoing around the docks. Approximately 14,000 feet of containment boom has been deployed.

The U.S. Coast Guard, working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other federal agencies, as well as the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and officials from Middlesex County, NJ, are overseeing spill containment and cleanup efforts. Primary concerns are protecting both the public and the threatened natural resources from any additional harm caused by the spill.

Normal air readings were reported after MultiRAE air monitoring tests were conducted by members with the Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team for the community around Smiths Creek. The MultiRAE is a combustible gas indicator that showed 20.8% normal oxygen levels, zero percent volatile organic compounds readings and lower explosive limits as well as zero levels of hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide.

Motiva Enterprises is working closely with the responding agencies which include the U.S. Coast Guard, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Approximately 150 responders are taking part in the cleanup effort.

Continued assessments are being conducted via small boat up and down the Arthur Kill channel to locate any more recoverable oil. The Coast Guard is continuing to conduct over flights in the area to assess the impact of the oil.

Motiva has appropriately taken responsibility for the incident and has fully implemented their facility response plan to include a formal incident command system being established.

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