Corson's Inlet Oil Spill
Prevention Plan Tested
(03/134) CORSON'S INLET STATE PARK
-- The state of New Jersey, along with federal and local
officials, tested an emergency response plan today to protect
back bay coastal areas near Corson's Inlet in Cape May County
from a major oil spill.
"New Jersey is prepared to safeguard our precious
coastal environment from the threat of oil spills in the
Atlantic Ocean," said Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell.
"These back bays need protection because they are located
in one of the Atlantic Flyway's most active flight paths
making them an important link in the vast network of state
and federal wildlife management areas."
DEP and the State Police are working in partnership with
the U.S. Coast Guard, Fish and Wildlife Service and National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and local emergency
management coordinators to protect this invaluable natural
The oil spill prevention plan is part of an overall strategy
developed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP) for the state's 13 coastal inlets. DEP
deployed more than 4,000 feet of oil-blocking booms based
on computerized Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping.
Rice hulls were used to simulate the flow of oil. The drill
will be evaluated to determine the effectiveness of the
booms to capture the oil considering the currents.
"The wildlife management area behind Corson's Inlet
provides important resting and feeding habitat for tens
of thousands of ducks, geese, wading birds, and shorebirds
during spring and fall migrations," said DEP Commissioner
Corson's Inlet is the gateway to the Cape May Marmora Wildlife
Management Area that contains ecologically sensitive tidal
salt meadows and marshes, interspersed with shallow coves
and bays. The area also is important for its breeding populations
of osprey, American oystercatcher, least tern, black skimmer
and peregrine falcon; is a popular fishing ground for summer
and winter flounder and a productive shellfishery.
Today's test is the sixth booming drill. The first test
of the inlet emergency response plans was conducted in 1997
at the Great Egg Harbor Inlet in Longport with subsequent
tests held at the Barnegat, Shark River, Cape May and Absecon
inlets. Future tests are planned for inlets at Beach Haven,
Brigantine, Hereford, Little Egg, Manasquan, Sea Girt and
The state's inlet protection effort was
developed after the 846-foot long Bahamian-flagged Anitra
spilled 42,000 gallons of Nigerian light crude oil into
the Delaware Bay during a May 1996 storm. Injuries to the
state's coastal environment occurred when tar balls formed
and washed ashore along the New Jersey coast from Cape May
to as far north as Holgate. The largest concentration of
tar balls washed up on beaches in Cape May and southern
Atlantic County where migrating shore birds feed and the
federally endangered piping plover nests. The Anitra spill
went through both the Hereford and Townsend inlets.