BREAKING NEWS: 37,000 Gallons of Oil Spilled in NYC East River This Week
First, it was sewage overflow. Then, it was trash. Currently, NYC's East River is inundated with approximately 37,000 gallons of oil. The East River can't catch a break.
Con Edison and the U.S. Coast Guard are racing to clean up the spill caused by a ruptured Brooklyn transformer. According to the U.S. Coast Guard to AM New York, about 31,000 of the transformer's total 37,000 gallons of dialectic fluid spilled from 89 John Street on Sunday, May 7th. More than 5,000 gallons continued to seep into the river after the initial rupture.
"A total of 6,300 gallons have been recovered from the containment area and 520 gallons have been recovered from the water," a Coast Guard statement said.
Con Edison started cleaning up the mess on Sunday by removing contaminated soil from the site's substation, but the U.S. Coast Guard has assumed responsibility for finishing the job, and are deploying booms and skimming vessels to prevent any further spreading.
In the meantime, Brooklyn Bridge Park officials warn people to stay out of the water, and have barred all recreational vessels on the Brooklyn side of the river, between the Williamsburg and Brooklyn bridges.
Oil Spills. Sticky Stuff.
The environmental impacts of oil spills are widespread and long-term. Oil can physically smother and poison organisms, cause drastic ecosystem changes, and pollute drinking water.
Oil & Us
It's not just the birds and the bees that are at a loss here. If oil is this visibly toxic to marine organisms, one can only imagine its longterm consequences for human health. For example, natives of Ogoniland, Nigeria have faced half a century of oil production and water contamination. Research by Amnesty International found these communities to be exposed to dangerous levels of cancer causing agents - with some families consuming benzene, one such agent, at a concentration 900 times the safe level. Dartmouth's Undergraduate Journal of Sciences notes that many Ogoniland waterways are coated with at least 8 centimeters of oil. Prolonged exposure and disregard for clean-up has so far killed tens of thousands of people, as well as livestock. The Shell Oil Company refused to recognize responsibility for the spills, but has since accounted for the more recent 2008 and 2009 oil spills.