Rescuers Spot 15 Birds Oiled After Fuel Spill Off Staten Island

By Nicholas Rizzi on December 18, 2012 1:47pm 

MARINER'S HARBOR — Rescuers found 15 birds covered in oil Monday after fuel spilled from a barge off the shoreline of Mariner's Harbor last week.

The boat leaked oil into the waters of the Kill Van Kull at around 11:22 p.m. on Friday. It spread to the nearby Shooter's Island bird sanctuary, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard said that they have sighted approximately 2,900 birds in the area of the spill, and 15 were seen to be slightly oiled. The affected birds did not require to be captured for rehabilitation, the Coast Guard said.

Shooter's Island, which is closed to the public, has several species of wading bird that breed on the 35-acre piece of land in Newark Bay. Birds there include black-crowned night herons, glossy ibis and several very rare egrets.

The spill was fully contained with temporary barriers set up by the Coast Guard, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection sent crews to aid with the cleanup.

Wildlife experts from Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research were sent to survey the area, and the Coast Guard said protecting the island has been a priority.

The spill was caused by a leak in the cargo tank of the barge Boston No. 30. Workers observed the darkened waters when the boat was transferring oil to another ship at Mays Ship Repair, the site of the former Bethlehem Steel Shipyard on Richmond Terrace, the Coast Guard said.

The tank was holding 112,000 gallons of oil.

It's still unclear how much oil spilt into the waters, but a spokesman for the Coast Guard said it wasn't the full 112,000 gallons because the tank still had some oil in it.

The slick also reached the nearby Richmond Terrace wetlands.