A ruptured Con Edison transformer in Brooklyn may have spilled more than 5,000 gallons of oil into the East River and about 31,000 gallons of oily dielectric fluid on land, the U.S. Coast Guard said Wednesday, May 11.
“A transformer containing approximately 37,000 gallons of insulating oil used with electrical equipment, failed on Sunday May 7 at 12:23 p.m., causing much of the oil to be released within the station property in addition to the East River,” Con Edison said in a statement.
Coast Guard crews were attempting to contain the oil spill in the East River by laying oil booms and using vessels to skim the oil from the water.
On land, Con Edison crews began removing contaminated soil at the substation. AmNewYork spoke to an official who said the cleanup work is expected to continue throughout the week.
City officials have warned people to stay out of the river. A safety zone has been established on the Brooklyn side of the river, barring all recreational vessels from the water between the Williamsburg and Brooklyn bridges.
“The safety zone was implemented as a precaution to protect waterway users from potential health hazards directly related to the spill, and to aid in the response of the spill. Fishing should be avoided where sheens are present,” the New York Department of Environmental Conservation said in a statement.
According to amNewYork, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp. posted “no swimming or wading” signs along the Pier 4 Beach, Pebble Beach, and under the Manhattan Bridge.
Dina Elkam, communications director of Solar One, which manages Stuyvesant Cove Park, expressed concern to amNewYork about the potential impact of the spill on birds.
“At this time of year, a lot of birds are nesting,” she told amNewYork. “If the mineral oil is washing up into nests, that could probably be very bad for the eggs.”