Coast Guard continues to work with partner agencies on East River response

NEW YORK – The Coast Guard continues to work with Con Edison and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to respond to the effects of the Brooklyn dielectric oil spill Sunday.

Coast Guard specialists continue to monitor the affected areas by performing over flights to visually observe any oil sheen in the river and by further sampling the waters for contaminants.

Water samples were collected from the area of the transformer spill of dielectric fluid located at the Con Edison Farragut Substation in Brooklyn and were independently analyzed. These samples detected trace amounts of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

PCBs are known carcinogens. The common introduction of PCBs to humans is through eating fish or shellfish that have had exposure. Although exposure risk is best assessed by health professionals, precautions should nonetheless be taken. The consumption of fish or shellfish taken from an affected body of water should be avoided, and the general public should stay out of the work zones and avoid direct contact where sheening is noted.

To mitigate the spread of contaminants, the Coast Guard has established a safety zone that has been enlarged to span the width of the East River from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Williamsburg Bridge. No recreational vessels are allowed in this safety zone. Commercial vessels are allowed to transit only at slow speed.

Due to the inclement weather expected this weekend, Con Edison plans to deploy tarps over the affected area to prevent rainwater from washing further dielectric fluid from the transformer site into the East River. To reinforce that effort, vacuum trucks on land and skimming vessels on water will be deployed.

The Coast Guard continues to work with the Con Edison and partner agencies to alleviate the spill. Coast Guard pollution specialists remain on scene to monitor the situation. The only observable sheen Friday was in the vicinity of the Brooklyn Naval Yard.

The transformer contained approximately 37,000 gallons of dielectric fluid, and approximately 31,000 gallons was released into the soil onto the substation property. An unknown but lesser amount leaked from this containment area into the East River. Approximately 560 gallons of oil has been recovered from the river.

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