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States get millions for oil spill

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Six years ago, an oil tanker snagged its hull on a giant submerged anchor and dumped two hundred sixty thousand gallons of crude oil into the Delaware River. Now, as Kerry Grens reports from WHYY’s health and science desk, states are getting compensation for the damage.

(Photo: USCG/PO Mike Lutz)

Location of Athos I spill (courtesy NOAA)

Location of Athos I spill (courtesy NOAA)

A federal trust fund designed to pay for accidents like the 2004 Delaware River oil spill, will send millions of dollars to Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. The money will make up for wildlife deaths, interrupted shellfishing, and wetlands pollution.

Pete Dunne is the director of natural history information at New Jersey Audubon.

Dunne: I can remember thinking at the time what a terrible time of year for it to happen. The end of November is a period when there’s a lot of waterfowl activity in the Bay. There’s lots of loons, northern gannet, it’s a peak activity period.

New Jersey, which receives the most at $20 million, will restore wetlands in Salem County and seed oyster beds in the Bay. Larry Hajna is a spokesman for New Jersey’s department of environmental protection.

Hajna: The project will also create habitat for great numbers of birds, herons, eagles, hawks, various species of ducks, wading birds. So we see this as a win win all the way around, but coming from an unfortunate situation that occurred several years ago.

Though thousands of birds died, Dunne says fortunately the spill was not adjacent to much of the most sensitive bird habitat.

Hajna says the years immediately after the spill were focused on clean up, and planning how to use the compensation funds.

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