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Oil Spill Off Staten Island Shoreline Threatens Bird Sanctuary

By Nicholas Rizzi | December 17, 2012 3:50pm

MARINER’S HARBOR — An oil spill off the coast of Mariner’s Harbor on Friday has spread to a nearby bird sanctuary.

The U.S. Coast Guard contained the spill with temporary barriers around the waters of the Kill Van Kull where a leak in a barge’s cargo tank caused oil to spill on Friday, but the fuel has spread to nearby Shooter’s Island bird sanctuary.

The Coast Guard has not been able to assess the damage, if any, to the bird sanctuary on the Newark Bay island, which was first reported by the New York Times.

On Sunday, the Coast Guard said the Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research responded to reports of affected wildlife, and the Coast Guard has set up a center for the public to notify them of oiled animals.

Shooter’s Island, which is closed to the public and is visited by scientists and government employees, has several species of wading birds that breed on the 35-acre island, including black-crowned night herons, glossy ibis, and several nearly extinct egrets.

The spill started at 11:22 p.m. on Friday, because of a leak in the cargo tanks of the Boston No. 30 barge at Mays Ship Repair, the site of the former Bethlehem Steel Shipyard on Richmond Terrace, the Coast Guard said.

Boston No. 30, owned by Boston Marine Transport Inc., was transferring oil to another barge when workers noticed the waters turning black, the Coast Guard said. The barge’s tank had 112,000 gallons of oil in it, and the Coast Guard said they’re still trying to determine how much spilled into the waters.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection have joined the Coast Guard to help clean-up and mitigation the spill.

Aside from Shooter’s Island, water from the barge also reached the Richmond Terrace wetlands.