Diesel Spill from TA Truck Stop in Bloomsbury, NJ
On Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 15:00 hours Delaware Riverkeeper Network received a hotline call from the Musconetcong Watershed Association that a diesel spill had occurred on the Musconetcong Creek and sheen had spread downstream into the Delaware River. Musconetcong Watershed Association mobilized volunteer monitors along the Musconetcong to take photos and document the extent and impact of the spill in coordination with the Warren County Hazardous Materials Team. DRN contacted NJ DEP to obtain further details of the spill to forward to watershed members in the field and NJ DEP contacted volunteers in the field to gain local insight and knowledge to stream access points and to better help agency staff mobilize. Reports from the Musconetcong Watershed Association on Saturday night noted: “The diesel was traveling along the Musconetcong’s right bank and was in a 2 – 4 foot wide plume with a strong odor of diesel fuel. It was the job of the Warren County HazMat Team to attempt to contain the spill. Placement of booms was difficult because of high winds, choppy water and fast flows.”
The spill was caused when an oil water separator malfunctioned and the alarm failed to go off at an underground storage tank at the Travel Center of America Truck Stop in Bloomsbury, NJ when the tank overflowed. It is estimated that over 100 gallons of the diesel/water fluid had been released into the Musconetcong and some early reports say the spill may have begun during the heavy rains the night before – causing many hours of uncontained pollution to spread. Reports indicate that the spill was detected and reported at 10:00 on Saturday morning by local Bloomsbury residents when they smelled strong diesel odors coming from the stream (the truck stop was unaware as the alarm did not sound). Early reports say it took clean up crews several hours to begin boom placement to stop the leaking fluid from entering the Musconetcong. We are unsure of why the emergency response took so long and are looking into more details.
DRN’s Deputy Director Tracy Carluccio arrived on scene at the Travel Center of America Truck Stop about 22:30 hours on Saturday where she observed booms and clean up pads still in place. On Sunday, Carluccio visited stream access points on land to look for signs of oiling and noted a faint diesel smell at the Rte 626 bridge. Members of the Musconetcong Watershed Association conducted a paddle of the Musconetcong on Sunday afternoon to look for signs of damage. Below is the report from Beth Styler Barry of the Musconetcong Watershed Association:
“This afternoon River Watcher Monitoring Coordinator Nancy Lawler and I kayaked from just below Route 519 in Pohatcong to Finesville to investigate yesterday’s oil spill. This area, specifically the Cyphers Road area, was where we saw a considerable amount of diesel product on Saturday afternoon. I am very pleased to say that we did not find evidence of yesterday’s spill on the surface of the river, on the bank, on the rocks or on the bottom of the river. We observed closely, especially on the eddies and quiet pools, but we did not see any film. We were able to smell only the slightest odor in some of the whitewater and near the Finesville Dam. We were also looking for any distressed or dead wildlife. We found one freshly dead trout that had obviously been a meal for a fellow river dweller. We found one dead sucker that we brought up from the bottom of the stream using our paddles and examined. It seemed that the fish had been dead for a few days - therefore dead before the spill. I spoke with Brian Cowden of Trout Unlimited later in the day and he told me that suckers are spawning now and that some die shortly thereafter. So it appears as if the worst is over for the Musky from this particular incident. So we will now turn our attention to discovering exactly what happened and why the Travel America station needed to be informed by local citizens and the HazMat team that there was a leak. We’ll investigate why their system failed, and what must be changed to prevent a recurrence.”
Check back for more details as we investigate further.