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Oil on the Musconetcong


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Anyone know what happened yesterday with all the oil in the Musconetcong River (Mansfield area)? Smelled like diesel fuel. Was HAZMAT able to get it all cleaned up? 


I got a call from my Trout Unlimited chapter president early yesterday that two of our members were fishing the river at the former Cliffdale Inn on rt. 57 in Port Murray (Mansfield Twp.) and he asked me if I knew the best course of action.  I gave him the 1-877-WARNDEP hotline and he called them as the two members also contacted Mansfield Twp. police while I was contacting the Musconetcong Watershed Association.  Both TU and the MWA arrived with HazMat, the police, and DEP.  This is site of a former home heating oil supply business long defunct (Bee Line Home Heating Oil from what I know).  Unbelievably, there are numerous 3,000+ gallon fuel storage tanks full of home heating oil just sitting there rotting for "at least the last 10-15 years".  One or more tanks leaked oil into the soil and it was running down the Port Murray tributary (unnamed trib to the Musky) where it was clearly leaving a sheen on the water along with the strong smell of diesel/# 2 heating oil.  The DEP crews worked quickly to mop up the mess, place hard and soft booms in the stream (tributary) and the mainstem of the Musky in several locations.  This is the last buildings on Heiser Road where it meets route 57 south along the tributary there.


Last I heard, the owner, August Binder, had passed away leaving the property to his wife.  She has a Nazareth, PA address and as of last night the police were unable to reach her.  Today, one of our TU members who works for the EPA got involved and that federal agency was offering their services including Coast Guard funding to help with the cleanup and to keep additional oil from reaching the river.  Sounds as though all oil is stopped from leaking further and that cleanup is going well.  While we don't yet know the ramifications of the leak, it is believed right now that it will have little long term affect to the river's health.  Luckily, with the high water from the rains, the oil was well diluted.  This spring we (TU and MWA) will do our annual sampling of the benthic macroinvertebrates (aquatic insects) in the Cliffdale Inn stretch which I restored 4 years ago next month.  Again, somewhat luckily, we secured a Conservation Innovation Grant from Farm Bill funds 3 years ago to monitor this restoration site along with several others downstream, so we have QAAP data which means our data is certified by NJ DEP.  This allows us to compare the spring insect study to the last two previous years and if we find significant loss, the NJ DEP has further legal action they can take because of the way we collect that data which will stand up in court.  Let's hope there is no damage and I really don't expect any of significance.  This spot has become highly popular with trout anglers since the 1/3 mile restoration and even though the property changed hands recently, it remains open to the public for access.  


I will post periodic updates here from time to time.   

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I should add that the costs of the cleanup along with any associated fines will be steep.  You can't just walk away from a storage facility like these owners did.  I do not know the circumstances, but just leaving thousands of gallons of oil in numerous storage tanks without proper catchment basins under them is a big no-no.  Details will trickle out over time and we'll all have a better understanding of the events that led to this spill.  I was getting calls from the press today while out in the field on other business, so I didn't have time to post about it here. 

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Only in Jersey... who walks away from thousands of gallons of money in the ground?  and why didn't the DEP investigate the proper closing of a Hazardous Material Site.  ?      Not to mention the Munitions buried in Burlington from WWII next to the Burlington/Bristol Bridge.  And Now they find them???   

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The report in the paper said the tanks were pumped out.


"The tanks at Beeline Fuel on Heiser Road near Route 57 were pumped out in 2002, county hazardous materials specialist Tom Nigro said Monday morning.
But there still was still residual oil at the bottom of the tanks, he said. One of the rusted tanks had a crack in a feeder pipe, he said. Once that was repaired, the leak appeared to stop, he said".


I'm curious to why the paper or the hazmat guy would say that if the tanks were indeed, full. You'd think the state someone would have stepped in long before this type of thing happens.

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I believe the State Law(years ago) also says the Tanks are to be filled with Concrete..  Or totally removed... 


These are all above ground, so removal would have been easy.  But it turns out not to be the covered (roof over them) tanks that leaked but rather a complex series of pipes that kept the tanks interconnected that became the issue, allowing the oil to leak out.  

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  • 2 months later...

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