Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Thursday, October 4, 2012

Paerdegat Basin Spill Cleanup to be Completed this Weekend and Environmental Investigation to Begin

Advisory to Avoid Recreating and Consuming Fish from the Basin Remains In Effect

The vast majority of oil in the Paerdegat Basin, Brooklyn has been collected by spill response operations underway since Sep. 28 and the environmental investigation at the site will begin next week, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Coast Guard announced today. NYSDEC and the state Department of Health continue to advise the public to avoid recreational boating, fishing and consuming fish or shellfish from Paerdegat Basin until further notice.

A test of a sample of oil from the pipeline that caused the spill showed a PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) level of 10,000 ppm at one location in the pipe, which is well above hazardous waste levels. These samples were obtained before the oil was mixed with water and spread into the Basin. Although no samples have been taken in the basin yet, contamination levels are typically highest at the spill source site and were likely diluted by the sewer system. In addition, there has not been any indication of fish kills noted during this response.

Health Impacts

DOH will review data collected on contaminant levels in the water and sediment of Paerdegat Basin and may recommend fish and shellfish sampling in the Basin to determine if long-term fish and shellfish consumption advisories are warranted. The cleanup from this spill should minimize health risks for potential PCB exposure from contact during boating, swimming, wading or fishing in these waters, but people should avoid recreational activities in the area until the cleanup is complete and additional information on PCB levels is assessed.

The release of oil containing PCBs into Paerdegat Basin may pose potential health risks to people with direct contact to the oil through recreating (swim, wade, fish) in these waters or consuming fish or shellfish from the Basin. PCBs from the spill could potentially accumulate in fish and shellfish.

Environmental Investigation & Cleanup

DEC is requiring National Grid to: complete an environmental investigation of the Basin to determine if there is residual contamination including PCB levels; evaluate possible remedies; and perform any additional required cleanup. National Grid is currently working with DEC and the U.S. Coast Guard to formulate a plan to decontaminate and clean impacted boats and structures in the Basin.

Background on Spill

National Grid decommissioned an underground gas pipeline and was pumping concrete into the pipe to plug it when the spill occurred in the early morning of Sep. 28. Oil, containing several hazardous substances, was spilled onto the ground and entered storm drains during fire department response operations. Approximately 800-1,400 gallons of oil spilled into the Basin.

This oil contained a mixture of volatile organic and semi-volatile organic chemicals, which are typical constituents of lubricating oil. The oil also contained mercaptans, which are used to odorize natural gas, and PCBs, commonly used in the past in gas compressor stations.

DEC continues to investigate the circumstances that led to the release.

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