June 21, 2006

Small Oil Spill At Plum Island

A tiny oil spill last Thursday at Plum Island Animal Disease Center was handled in a big way: Within 17 minutes, according to PIADC officials, the situation was under control.

At 10:20 a.m., the PIADC passenger ferry JJ Calalis experienced a malfunction in a shaft seal while docked in the harbor.

After the seal malfunction, water entered the bilge, and required removal by a bilge pump. Consequently, water pumped from the vessel caused an oily sheen on a section of the harbor, said PIADC sources.

But the PIADC Immediate Response Team was right on the spill: By 10:37, the oily sheen was fully contained after the deployment of a double boom.

The PIADC team was able to calculate, based on the National Marine Oil Spill Contingency Plan, that, based on the color, appearance and square footage of the sheen, the quantity of oil released into the harbor was less than a fluid ounce.

As a result of the PIADC's quick action, the sheen did not escape the harbor, and cleanup ensued immediately.

After the shaft seal was secured, the passenger ferry was moved to a boat yard for repair.

PIADC contacted the Coast Guard, the National Response Center, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the PIADC's contracted oil spill response organization.

The quick response, said PIADC officials, was based on an emergency preparedness training program in place at the facility, which involves routine drills to train personnel to handle such scenarios with prompt response times.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell commended the team's fast response: "I'm glad they were able to respond and rectify the situation quickly."

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