Route 55 fuel spill kills beaver, leeches into Mantua Creek

Route 55 fuel spill kills beaver, leeches into Mantua Creek

Source: https://www.courierpostonline.com, December 14, 2018
By: Carly Q. Romalino

At least one beaver is dead and another in the care of an animal rescue group after being “oiled” in a fuel spill that started on Route 55, but leaked into Mantua Creek through a highway storm drain.

Crews expect a long cleanup for the four to five to miles of winding, slow-moving creek in which fuel is hung up on fallen trees and other debris, according to state environmental protection officials.

“It’s going to take a while to do this,” New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s emergency management director Bob VanFossen told the Courier Post Friday.

“Mother Nature is really going to be the one to help with rain over time.”

A tanker truck owned by Ross Fogg Fuel Oil Company overturned on Route 55 near exit 53 in Mantua, spilling 7,800 gallons of diesel fuel on the highway Dec. 5, according to the DEP.

The driver, Williams Myers was taken to Cooper University Hospital’s trauma center after the 2007 Kenworth tanker rolled onto its right side, blocking all southbound lanes, New Jersey State Police said.

The southbound lanes of the highway were shut down for several hours following the 1 p.m. crash. The highway wasn’t fully reopened until 9:30 p.m. and crews weren’t off the scene until about 2 a.m. the next day, according to state police.

At the time, much of the fuel was thought to have only impacted the shoulder of the highway. Ross Fogg addressed the road spill, the DEP reported.

But the next day, a sheen on Mantua Creek was discovered, indicating fuel had made its way into the waterway through a hidden highway storm drain. The drain was covered by several inches of dirt and leaves, but fuel had leaked through it into the creek, according to the DEP.

The state agency is working with the Gloucester County Office of Emergency Management.

The drain pipe was flushed and the creek was immediately boomed, a way to corral floating oil and stop it from traveling down stream, the state said.

Ross Fogg has hired contractors to handle the cleanup.

It’s not known how much oil has spilled into the creek, DEP spokesman Larry Hajna said.

Even a small amount of petroleum product can cause extensive sheening when it touches water, Hajna explained.

Crews have deployed booms — some blocking the sheen from traveling and others absorbing oil — to 10 to 12 locations, VanFossen said.

“Any impact to the environment is a big deal,” the emergency management director said.

One beaver died when Hajna said it was “oiled,” and another is being treated at an animal rescue center in Delaware.

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