Sandy Responsible for 300,000 Gallon Oil Spill on U.S. East Coast

Published Nov 1, 2012 3:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

[Updated with response from U.S. Coast Guard]

The Coast Guard National Strike Force is overseeing clean up efforts at the Motiva petroleum terminals including its facility in Sewaren, N.J.  The outcome of these assessments will determine the timeline for a return to operations.

With regards to the Sewaren tank facility:

Four diesel oil storage tanks were damaged, two of which are believed to have released some of their contents.  Before the storm each tank held 336,000 gallons of oil.

The exact volume of diesel oil released from the tanks will be determined when crews are able to gain safe access to the tanks.

Initial response actions were successful to stop the flow of diesel from the secondary containment area into Woodbridge Creek, N.J. The diesel fuel is contained in the area around the storage tanks in Woodbridge Creek, Smith’s Creek and the Motiva Terminals dock on the Arthur Kill Channel. Approximately 130 responders are taking part in the cleanup effort.

Product and water is being recovered by vacuum trucks from the secondary containment area and pumped into a separate onsite storage tank.

Assessments of the surrounding waterways, creeks and community have been conducted. Contractors are working to remove contained pockets of oil in Smith’s Creek utilizing skimmers, vacuum trucks, absorbent pads, and absorbent boom. Additional cleanup actions are ongoing around the docks.

The Atlantic Strike Team conducted air monitoring for the community around Smiths Creek and had normal air readings.

Continued assessments are being conducted via small boat up and down the Arthur Kill channel to locate any more recoverable oil. No sheen or oil was reported in the navigable channel or on the New York side of the channel this morning. The Coast Guard is continuing to conduct over flights in the area to assess the impact of the oil.

The Coast Guard is working with Motiva, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection and with Middlesex County Officials to monitor cleanup efforts.

Motiva has appropriately taken responsibility for the incident and has fully implemented their facility response plan to include a formal incident command system being established. 


A reported 300,000 gallons of diesel fuel has spilled into waters between New Jersey and New York from a New Jersey oil refinery that was closed due to Hurricane Sandy.

Motiva, a joint venture of Shell Oil and Saudi Refining, said the spill occurred at its Sewaren, New Jersey, facility, along the Arthur Kill, the tidal waterway separating New Jersey from Staten Island, New York, reports the Chicago Tribune. At least two diesel storage tanks were damaged.

The company later confirmed that there has been no further oil released since the initial event. Previously deployed booms are continuing to skim the spill in the waters adjacent to the site. Luckily, no injuries occurred in this incident.

200 people were working on the cleanup, but some efforts are difficult due to the aftermath of the hurricane. A U.S. Coast Guard official said that damage to the port and debris in waterways is complicating navigation for the cleanup.

The oil had been successfully contained by a floating boom to minimize its spread, according to AFP. Additionally, during an assessment flight to evaluate the storm's impact, the coast guard noticed evidence of minor oil spills in other spots, but the Sewaren spill was the most significant.

Shell has not released any official statements regarding the oil spill.

Hurricane Sandy has caused 62 deaths in the U.S., and billions of dollars in damage.