Delaware River areas hurt by 2004 spill get reparations

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday $27.5 million will be divvied up among federal and state agencies to repair damage caused by the 2004 Delaware River oil spill.

    The nine projects consist of creating 90 acres of oyster reefs in New Jersey, removing dams to increase fish mobility in the Darby Creek by the Philadelphia International airport and enhancing the habitat for blackbirds in Delaware.

    Bethany Bearmore with NOAA said the projects will provide a more natural setting for people to enjoy.  “Instead of having a dilapidated shoreline where there’s no access to the river, access will be given to the river and people can fish there and there will be benches to observe the wildlife,” she said. “For the dam removal projects, you’ll be able to see improved conditions in the river between water quality and just fish use.”

    On Nov. 26, 2004, a cargo ship called the Athos I struck a submerged anchor while trying to dock in Paulsboro, N.J. The accident dumped 265,000 gallons of crude oil into the river affecting more than 280 miles of the shoreline

    Sherry Krest with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service looks forward to the upcoming projects. She said the money will coming from the U.S. Coast Guard Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

    “A lot of times people think the taxpayers paid for it,” she said. “Well, they really didn’t. It’s not coming out of tax payer money, especially in this budget climate. I want to emphasize that. It comes out of a special pot of money for this purpose.”

    Krest said there is a tax on every barrel of oil sold. That tax money is put aside to deal with spills that don’t have a responsible party. The cargo ship in this case was not held liable for the accident.

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