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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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news releases

February 6, 2006

Contact: Karen Hershey (609) 984-1795
Elaine Makatura (609) 292-2994


(06/04) TRENTON - The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is successfully working to contain a spill which discharged fuel oil into the Passaic River yesterday morning.

"DEP responded immediately to this situation, deploying cleanup workers to contain the discharge and prevent further contamination of the Passaic River," said Acting DEP Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson. "DEP is leading a multi-agency response team that will work around the clock to ensure that the cleanup is done properly. Once containment and recovery efforts are completed, we will assess the extent of environmental damage and consider further action."

A preliminary assessment indicates that a 10,000 gallon above ground storage tank at Tilcon discharged fuel oil into a containment area, then into a nearby storm drain, which later spread through a tributary into the Passaic River. The sheen covers a portion of the Passaic River from Totowa to Paterson. An investigation as to the amount of the discharge is ongoing.

DEP is leading a team of responders from local, county, state and Federal agencies to contain the discharge. The Department hired two contractors, Atlantic Response of Carteret and Environmental Product Service of Linden to undertake the cleanup. At present, there are 22 individuals working to contain the discharge. In order to contain the spill, booms have been deployed in various locations along the River. DEP is also monitoring efforts to flush out all the storm drains in the vicinity of the discharge site and contractors are continuing to vacuum product from the River's shoreline.

"The Passaic County Department of Health HAZMAT Response Division will continue to provide ongoing local resources and support to the DEP and other local response agencies to ensure the safety of the community," said Deborah Rucki Drake, Health Officer.

As a precaution, the Passaic Valley Water Commission (PVWC) shut down intakes from the affected portion of the Passaic River. According to PVWC officials, drinking water has not been impacted by the incident.

Thus far, approximately 9,000 gallons of oil/water mixture has been recovered from the containment area surrounding the fuel tank. DEP estimates at this time that 500 gallons of oil/water mixture has been recovered from the River. Recovery of free product is ongoing.

DEP will continue to oversee the work of the contractors and remain on site while cleanup efforts continue.

DEP received a report from the Passaic County Sheriff's Office at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, February 5 that a sheen was visible in the Passaic River in the area of Paterson. DEP's Bureau of Emergency Response, along with Passaic county authorities immediately responded to the call and with the help of the New Jersey State Police, traced the source of the discharge to Tilcon New York Inc., an asphalt manufacturing facility located in Totowa.

Agencies collaborating with the DEP on the response are Passaic County, New Jersey State Police, United State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice.




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Last Updated: February 7, 2006