Oil Tank at New Jersey Refinery Leaks Millions of Gallons

TRENTON, New Jersey, February 24, 2012 (ENS) – The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is downplaying the environmental impact of a large spill from an oil tank at the Paulsboro Refining Company facility in Gloucester County that started Thursday afternoon.

Personnel at the heavy crude oil refinery discovered the leak shortly before 1:30 pm Thursday. As of 4:30 pm, 157,000 barrels, or about 6.6 million gallons, of oil had leaked into the refinery’s emergency containment area.

The emergency containment area, essentially a large berm surrounding the tank, is designed to hold 377,000 barrels in the event of an emergency.

Paulsboro Refinery (Photo courtesy PBF Energy)

The tank holds 286,000 barrels of oil, or about 12 million gallons. The leak is due to a broken crude oil pipe inside the refinery, officials said.

Although the refinery is located on the Delaware River in Paulsboro, New Jersey, just south of Philadelphia, DEP officials say the oil “is not expected to impact the Delaware River or local water supplies.”

While the Paulsboro Refining Company is responsible for cleanup response, the DEP’s Bureau of Emergency Response is coordinating response efforts along with the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, the New Jersey State Police, the Gloucester County Office of Emergency Management, the Gloucester County Health Department, the U.S. Coast Guard and refinery personnel.

Petroleum odors have been reported in a number of surrounding communities as a result of the leak that developed in the base of the storage tank. Initial air monitoring by the Gloucester County Health Department and by refinery personnel do not indicate any health hazards from the odors.

“Air monitoring also indicates there should be no health effects from odors caused by the spill, the DEP said.

The agency advises “sensitive populations such as the elderly or people with respiratory conditions” to stay indoors until odors subside.

“Petroleum products have a low odor threshold, meaning they can be smelled readily even at very low levels that do not cause serious health risks,” said the DEP.

Emergency crews are applying foam to the oil in the containment area to reduce vapors. The refinery is currently pumping oil in the tank and oil in the containment area into other facilities on-site. Those activities are expected to continue throughout the night.

Residents with questions may contact a Community Information Line set up by the refinery at 856-224-6177.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2012. All rights reserved.

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