Authorities Put Dublin Express HFO Spill at 100,000 Gallons

dublin express containership
File Photo: MarineTraffic.com/Arki Wagner

Authorities estimate that up to 100,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil was released from the containership Dublin Express during its transit along the East Coast to New York and in the Arthur Kill.

The oil spill was first reported to Coast Guard Sector New York on March 28 near the Goethals Bridge in Arthur Kill waterway in Staten Island, New York. Its source was confirmed as a commercial container ship while moored at the Global Marine New York Container Terminal.

A Unified Command, consisting of state and federal agencies and the responsible party, was established on scene to coordinate cleanup efforts.

In a statement issued Monday, the Unified Command said that after evaluating data collected by Coast Guard marine investigators and vessel representatives, it believes that up to 100,000 gallons of heavy fuel-oil was likely released by the vessel during its transit along the East Coast to New York.

The Unified Command reports the total amount of oily-water recovered in the Arthur Kill Waterway is approximately 35,000 gallons.

Tar balls coming from the vessel have been confirmed at a seaside park in Queens, N.Y. Teams have also identified a small amount of tar balls in Atlantic Beach and are evaluating them to confirm the source. Four oiled birds have been recovered.

The spill’s size estimate comes as the Dublin Express was cleared for departure from the terminal last Thursday following repairs and cleaning of the vessel. As of Monday, the German-flagged ship was underway along the U.S. East Coast after calling at Charleston, South Carolina over the weekend.

Hapag-Lloyd, which operates the Dublin Express, addressed the incident in a statement on March 29:

Yesterday evening, a hole was detected in the hull of the Hapag-Lloyd container ship “Dublin Express” during unloading operations in the Global Marine New York Container Terminal. Fuel was escaping from the roughly 40 x 40-centimetre opening. The hole was sealed during the night. In addition, extensive containment booms were promptly set out to prevent any additional spreading of the oil and to proactively protect nearby nature reserves.

The 4,120 TEU container ship encountered heavy swell while sailing from Port Everglades to New York.

“This response was a joint effort between state and federal agencies and the responsible party,” said Capt. Jason Tama, Federal On-Scene Coordinator. “We take any release of oil into the maritime environment extremely seriously, and we are thankful for the quick and efficient response from all agencies involved.”

“This multi-agency response moved quickly and effectively to ensure the public and the environment are protected,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. “DEC thanks the U.S. Coast Guard and our state and local partners for coordinating the efforts to identify and clean up the spill impacts we’ve seen thus far, and we will continue to monitor the coast and encourage anyone who observes any potential oil products from this spill to contact the command center immediately to assist in our investigation.”

Cleanup operations in the area are expected to continue until all impacted parts of the Arthur Kill Waterway are fully restored.