Spill at Sandy Hook
this just $%#@%$#! sucks.......
Published in the Asbury Park Press 9/15/00
By SHERI TABACHNIK
and GEORGIA EAST
EARLE -- About 30,000 gallons of diesel fuel poured into Raritan Bay from a hole in the hull of the USS Detroit
yesterday as a tugboat escorted the Navy refueling vessel into the Earle pier in the Leonardo section of Middletown.
The spill occurred 2.7 miles offshore.
Authorities have not yet determined the cause of the 4:20 p.m. spill, which happened during high tide, said U.S. Coast
Guard Chief Warrant Officer Lionel Bryant. No injuries have been reported.
Late last night, cleanup crews contracted by the Navy were placing 13,000 feet of boom in the water trying to contain
the spill, which was reported to be about a half mile long and a half mile wide, he said. The Coast Guard had men in
"You can stop it as much as possible but there's only so much you can do to stop it from moving," Bryant said. "It's a
pretty good-sized spill."
Winds were blowing northwest at 15 mph, possibly moving the slick and the fumes toward land, he said. But rain and
high winds expected after midnight would break up the oil, he said.
Petty Officer Angelo Patti said none of the fuel appears to have reached land.
"We haven't had calls from people complaining," he said.
The Sandy Hook Channel was closed to all traffic. No vessels were allowed to travel between Point Comfort and Old
Orchard Shoal, a lighthouse 10 miles west of Sandy Hook, said Petty Officer Nathan Loppnow.
The crew of the harbor tug Mary L. McAllister reported seeing the 4-inch-by-4-foot hole in the hull of the naval support
ship as it neared the Earle Naval Weapons Station Pier, Bryant said.
Ken's Marine, Bayonne, and Miller Environmental Services, Staten Island, specialists in oil spill cleanups, installed the
booms and will do any type of cleanup necessary, Bryant said. Patti said the Navy is using a skimmer, a boat that
separates the fuel from the water and sucks it out.
Booms were placed by the Belford Creek and Ware Creek to protect them, said Coast Guard Lt. Commander Tina
Cutter, who was in charge of the cleanup.
The fuel could endanger wildlife, and representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were on the scene.
"This is a very sensitive time of year," said Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action. "The fish eggs have
hatched and now we have fish in juvenile stages densely populated in these areas. The water is just brimming with life
Everyone working on the cleanup wore suits, gloves and aspirators, Bryant said.
The No. 2 diesel fuel gives off a foul odor, but it is not toxic, he said. It takes a large concentration of fumes to cause
physical problems, he said.
"If people smell and feel discomfort, the smart thing to do is go inside and contact your family doctor," Bryant said.
Before the spill, the ship had been carrying 54,000 gallons of fuel. The crew of the ship pumped the remaining fuel into
another tank to stop the leak.
If weather permits, crews were expected to work through the night, Bryant said.
"It's hard to tell at night how far the spill has moved," he said. "We'll be up in a helicopter first thing in the morning."
Middletown Mayor Rosemarie D. Peters had not heard about the spill until late last night. She planned to call the
police and township and emergency management departments before commenting.
The Coast Guard made $100,000 from a federal pollution-cleanup fund available for work here.
Sheri Tabachnik: (732) 863-1500, Ext. 7751, or firstname.lastname@example.org.