Archive for the tag 'coast guard'

Coast Guard and Department of Environmental Protection workers were at the Sheepshead Bay marina this morning, attempting to rein in spilled fuel that collected around the Ocean Avenue footbridge.

The fuel leaked into Sheepshead Bay from boats that were ripped apart and sank during Hurricane Sandy, just one of the many environmental terrors caused by the Frankenstorm.

The authorities were on scene at 3:00 p.m., beginning to set up floating booms to surround the area where it has collected, where they will then pull it in and suck the contaminated water out of the marina. As they worked, the air was thick with the smell of fuel.

Previous storms caused local vessels to become unmoored. Many were destroyed when they collided with the footbridge.

If you’ve got a boat, don’t be foolish. Stay off the water until after Hurricane Sandy passes!

The U.S. Coast Guard has elevated New York and New Jersey port condition status to Yankee. Large vessels must vacate New York’s ports, and other mariners are cautioned to avoid being on the water. The Coast Guard’s search and rescue operations will be hampered, and they may not be able to provide help until after the storm. Drawbridges will remain closed as wind picks up speed.

(Get all the latest Hurricane Sandy-related news, announcements and resources, including live video, at our Hurricane Sandy Resource page.)

Here’s their press release:

The Captain of the Port of New York and New Jersey set port condition YANKEE for all commercial waterways in preparation for Hurricane Sandy, effective Sunday,

Gale force winds from Hurricane Sandy are expected to make landfall along the coast of New York and New Jersey within 24 hours. In addition the COTP Hurricane and Severe Weather Plan, additional actions are required:

  1. Commercial deep draft vessels greater than 500 gross tons are not authorized to remain in port alongside a pier after 6 p.m., today.
  2. All vessels must be out of Bay Ridge, Stapleton, and Gravesend Bay Anchorage Grounds by 6 p.m., today.
  3. Only one barge per commercial mooring buoy, with a tug in the vicinity, is authorized after 6 p.m., today.
  4. After the hurricane has passed, all facilities must fill out a post-storm assessment survey.

Mariners are also advised that drawbridges will remain closed when wind speeds are 34 knots or greater or once evacuations begin. Because of the uncertainty of weather movements and related bridge closures, mariners are urged to seek passage through drawbridges well in advance of the arrival of gale force winds.

All Coast Guard small boat stations have secured operations in anticipation of the hurricane.  As a result, they will have minimal search and rescue capabilities until the storm passes out of the area. The Coast Guard once again urges boaters to stay off the water and off the beaches.

As Hurricane Sandy draws closer, the Coast Guard is warning the public of these important safety messages:

Stay off the water.  The Coast Guard’s search and rescue capabilities degrade as storm conditions strengthen.  This means help could be delayed.  That is why boaters should heed to weather watches, warnings and small craft advisories.

Evacuate as necessary.  If mandatory evacuations are set for an area, the public should evacuate without delay.  Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate those in danger during the storm.

Secure belongings.  Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or damage.

Trailerable boats should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding.  Those who are leaving their boats in the water are reminded to secure life rings, lifejackets and small boats.  These items, if not secured properly, can break free and require valuable search and rescue resources to be diverted to ensure they are not actually people in distress.

Stay clear of beaches. Wave heights and currents typically increase before a storm makes landfall. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by hurricanes.  Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe.

Be prepared. Area residents should be prepared by developing a family plan, creating a disaster supply kit, having a place to go, securing their home and having a plan for pets.

Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of Hurricane Sandy through local television, radio and Internet. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF radio channel 16. Information can also be obtained on small craft advisories and warnings on VHF radio channel 16.


Source: Geoffrey Croft via

The following is a press release issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation:

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and state Department of Health have lifted the boating advisory in Paerdegat Basin in Brooklyn that was in place since the oil spill that led to discharges into the Basin while National Grid was plugging a decommissioned underground gas pipeline.

The agencies continue to advise the public to avoid eating any fish or crabs from Paerdegat Basin in Brooklyn and 200 yards from the mouth of Paerdegat Basin in a small portion of Jamaica Bay as a precaution until further notice. The public is also reminded that all New York City waters are closed to shellfishing (harvest of clams, mussels, oysters or scallops).

An environmental investigation is underway to determine if there is residual contamination in the Basin. To date, National Grid has performed preliminary testing of the Basin’s surface water, and sampling data indicates there are no PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in the water. DEC will verify the data in the coming weeks.

As part of the clean-up efforts, National Grid conducted an initial cleaning of boats impacted by the spill. DEC is currently evaluating the results of that cleaning to determine what further actions are needed to assure the vessels meet criteria for decontamination. National Grid also flushed the storm sewer line, cleaned the street and removed spilled condensate from the manhole.

National Grid will submit a draft workplan next week to DEC outlining a schedule for sampling basin sediments, biota and upland soil. Once DEC approves the plan, the company will be responsible for collecting and analyzing necessary samples. The results of the sampling performed under the workplan will determine whether any additional remediation is required. A timeline will be included in the workplan.

DEC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are currently reviewing a plan by National Grid to clean out the remainder of the pipe that was not filled with concrete when the incident occurred.

Source: Geoffrey Croft via

When we first broke the story about the Paerdegat Basin oil spill, in which an estimated 800 to 1,400 gallons of natural gas condensate, compressor oil and turbine oil poured into the waters near Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, info was scarce. Representatives of the U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Environmental Conservation told us the spill had happened while an old pipe was being capped, but how the oil got into the water remained unclear. The company responsible for the spill, National Grid, did not respond to requests for comment.

National Grid has now weighed in, issuing a press release late last week that indicated the spill actually happened on land. Firefighters responding to complaints of a smell of natural gas in the neighborhood, created by the release of mercaptan, an additive that gives the gas its odor, arrived at the scene and flushed the oil and residue from the ground and into storm drains, which flowed into Paerdegat Basin.

Keep reading and see how what National Grid had to say.

Source: Geoffrey Croft via

National Grid is expected to wrap up decontamination operations of last week’s gas and oil spill by the end of this weekend, while authorities note that the problem may be worse than originally expected.

A test of the oil that gushed from an old National Grid pipe found a PCB level of 10,000 ppm, 200 times the acceptable level and high enough to be deemed hazardous waste, a Department of Environmental Conservation bulletin notes. The sample was taken directly from the oil and not from areas where it has mixed with Jamaica Bay’s protected waters, where the concentration would have been diluted.

PCBs are a cancer-causing toxin.

The unusually high PCB level is due to the fact that the defunct pipe held old oil and gas from a different regulatory era, not the cleaner compounds circulating in National Grid’s active pipes.

Samples have not yet been tested from Paerdegat Basin – the site of the spill – itself, but the state Department of Health will review data on contaminant levels in the water and sediment to determine long-term effects on fish and wildlife. The DEC will conduct an investigation once cleanup is completed.

National Grid is also working with DEC and the Coast Guard to clean any boats and structures that have been contaminated by the spill.

The company led a tour of the area for local politicians including City Councilman Lew Fidler, who is skeptical of the company’s evaluation of the damage.

“You never take the word of the person who did it for how bad (it is),” Fidler told the Daily News. “I know it’s not on the level of the Exxon-Mobil spill, but if it’s in your neighborhood it sure feels like it.”

The spill was reported to authorities at 1:30 a.m. on September 28. National Grid was capping the unused pipe by injecting it with a cement slurry, but something went wrong and between 800 and 1,400 gallons of natural gas condensate, compressor oil and turbine oil poured into Paerdegat Basin, part of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

National Grid and the Williams Company are currently seeking the government’s permission to build a natural gas pipeline underneath Jamaica Bay, with a metering station in Floyd Bennett Field’s hangars. The proposal has already received the green light from federal legislators and is currently under review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

However, environmentalists say National Grid and Williams both have a history of accidents like this and the plan should be blocked in favor of protecting the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, a national park.

The DEC and Coast Guard are advising the public to avoid recreational boating and fishing near Paerdegat Basin. They also say to avoid consuming fish and shellfish from the area’s waters.

Source: Geoffrey Croft via

Source: Geoffrey Croft via

Early Thursday morning to Friday, 1,100 gallons of gas and oil spilled into the Paerdegat Basin Creek, which connects to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, after a pipe-cementing incident had gone wrong.

We reported on the story as it broke, and more information has since been released . Geoffrey Croft, blogger at A Walk In The Park NYC and founder of NYC Park Advocates has put together some photos of the environmental calamity and got feedback from local mariners.

“You could taste oil in your mouth” a boater said at the Midget Squadron Yacht Club, according to Croft, who also notes that neighbors were reporting headaches and nausea.

After the spill, the Coast Guard sent out pollution responders which included the FDNY, DEC and the Miller Environmental Group, an environmental waste crew. The cleanup crews are  laying down oil booms and blue absorbent pads in the water to help soak up the oil.

Over the weekend, officials were near the spill warning boaters and fishermen not to go near the water.

National Grid, which is the company that was replacing the pipe that initially leaked the toxins, was on hand, too. According to Croft, “Contractors were filling up multiple 55 gallons drums along Seaview Avenue in front of Canarsie Park.”

National Grid released the following statement after the spill:

On Sept. 27 National Grid and its contractor were working on filling in an old gas main that is no longer in service with cement.

During the process an oily water residue spilled from the exit pipe into a valve box. An odor from the residue was released, resulting in a number of odor calls. We were onsite with crews throughout the night investigating and did not find any gas leaks. We immediately notified the appropriate agencies and we and our environmental contractors are working under the direction of the Coast Guard and the NYS DEC to clean up a spill in Paerdergat Basin.

“Our whole club filled with gas,” said Mike Keller from the Diamond Point Yacht Club, a maritime club within the vicinity of the spill. “My car completely filled will the smell of methane gas to the point where I was gagging. This whole area was filled with methane gas, waves of gas.”

Keller also said the spill spread was pushed out by outgoing tides to Jamaica Bay on Friday.

“Coast Guard pollution responders, working closely with city and state partners, will ensure the responsible party performs a proper and complete cleanup of the spill site,” wrote Petty Officer Erik Swanson, Coast Guard spokesman in New York, in a statement.

If National Grid is found responsible for any wrong-doing, they will be fined.

Lisa King, from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation stated that the spill “contained some PCBs,” which is a persistent organic pollutant, whose production was banned in the late 70′s. She goes on to say that:

At this point, it appears the spill is contained to that waterway. National Grid was performing work in the area at the time. You need to contact them for more specifics on the work they were doing. We are advising against recreational fishing and boating in the waterway until further notice. National Grid hired a contractor to clean up the work that has been on scene since the night of the spill. DEC is overseeing the work with the US Coast Guard. Once the immediate spill clean up efforts are complete, DEC will conduct sampling to see if there is lingering environmental damage.

In the meantime,boaters are still asked to stay away from the contaminated site.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz issues a press release this morning, commending the state Department of Environmental Conservation for their fast response to Friday’s oil spill in Jamaica Bay.

Below is the press release:

In the wake of Friday’s oil and gas spill in JamaicaBay, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn), a member of the Assembly’s Committee on Environmental Conservation, is praising the state agency charged with overseeing the investigation for its quick response and asking to be kept informed as the probe into the spill moves forward.

According to published reports, National Grid was cementing an “older pipe” on the evening of September 28 when 1,100 gallons of natural gas condensate, compressor oil and turbine oil discharged into Jamaica Bay.

Inspectors from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEC) and Coast Guard responded, and an environmental response contractor hired by National Grid has been working to suck the water-oil mixture out of the area to prevent further environmental damage.

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UPDATED POST (7:28 p.m.): National Grid contractors are cleaning up 1,100 gallons of gas and oil that gushed into the waters of Paerdegat Basin, which connects to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, after an accident Friday night.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Erik Swanson told Sheepshead Bites that National Grid was cementing an older pipe when there was an unexpected discharge of hazardous materials at approximately 1:30 a.m. The discharge was a mixture of natural gas condensate, compressor oil and turbine oil.

National Grid alerted the Coast Guard, who sent a pollution responder team to the scene, along with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation inspectors.

The company hired Miller Environmental Group, a Long Island-based environmental response contractor, to clean the waters, which involves sucking the water-oil mixture out of the area to prevent anymore sheening or environmental damage, Swanson said.

The contractors will be working throughout today and tomorrow, but the repairs are expected to continue past the weekend.

Coast Guard and local governmental agencies will investigate the cause of the accident. If National Grid is determined to have caused it or acted inappropriately, they will be fined, Swanson said. There will also be continued testing of the waters to ensure the public’s safety.

Authorities are cautioning mariners and fishermen to avoid the area.

Original Post (5:00 p.m.): Authorities are telling fishermen, mariners and water enthusiasts to stay away from the Paerdegat Basin are of Jamaica Bay, following a National Grid oil spill. Here’s the alert:

Alert issued 9/29/12 at 4:45 PM. Oil spill contractors working for National Gird Corporation, under the direction of the US Coast Guard and the NYS DEC, are working to clean up a spill of oil and hazardous materials in Paerdergat Basin, Brooklyn. The public is advised to avoid fishing and recreational activity in this area until further notice. An odor may also be present in the area. There is no danger of an explosion.

We have contacted the Department of Environmental Conservation regarding the circumstances of the spill and are awaiting a response.

This is a breaking news story and may contain inaccuracies. We will update it as more information becomes available. If anyone has more information or additional photos, please send them to tips (at) sheepsheadbites (dot) com.

Source: Darny via Flickr

Boaters traversing the Verrazano Narrows will now have to contend with a 110-yard “safety zone” implemented by the U.S. Coast Guard yesterday.

The temporary safety zone marks off the area where 1,500 artillery shells and munitions were discovered in October by local diver Gene Ritter. It sits just underneath the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

The discovery, which the New York Post just can’t stop calling the “bombshell revelation” – get it? – is thought to be a lost stockpile that spilled into the bay during a military accident in 1954.

Coast Guard officials said the safety zone will stay put at least until the end of June, or until the explosives are removed. But with the Navy claiming the shells aren’t their responsibility, it’s unclear who’s leading the cleanup effort.

Bonus: Ten points to any local boaters who can get me a photo of the safety zone!

A ten-mile long red ribbon is wrapping New York City’s waterways, and the Coast Guard is warning boaters to keep away.

The red tide was spotted in New York Harbor yesterday, from the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in the Hudson River out to Hoffman Island, near Staten Island. It’s spurred on by the sudden bloom of red algae, known as phytoplankton, which contains toxins that sometimes deprive fish and shellfish of oxygen. The substance is known to cause eye and respiratory problems.

“It gives us something to study, but it’s not much fun for anyone else. You don’t want to get near the water until it clears up,” Karl Askins, a marine biology student, told the Daily News. “This is not something I expected to see in New York.”

And scientists sure do have fun with this kind of stuff. Over in India, some renegade researchers are still looking for answers to what caused a red rain over the country in 2001. Well, look no further, said physicist Godfrey Louis; it’s alien love-goo that might have also been responsible for seeding the Earth with life all those millions of years ago.

So maybe Indian rain, the Hudson River and my cat have something in common: they’re all in heat. If this spreads, we may have a new reason to talk about Sheepshead Bay’s “canal.”

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