Fuel spill reported at NJ refinery after Sandy

NEW YORK Mon Nov 5, 2012 4:04pm EST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Some 7,700 gallons of fuel spilled from Phillips 66's Bayway refinery in Linden, New Jersey, after Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. Coast Guard said on Monday, reporting an apparent second leak at the New York harbor oil trading hub.

The spill was reported after residents in nearby Bayonne, New Jersey, complained about diesel fumes. New Jersey environmental protection officials said they were not aware of a major spill at the Bayway plant, however.

It was not clear what type of fuel leaked from the refinery or what measures were taken to contain it. A Phillips 66 spokesperson did not immediately reply to a message seeking comment.

A similar-sized spill was reported last week at Motiva Enterprise's Sewaren, New Jersey, terminal, which was one of the hardest hit among the oil docks, tank farms and truck depots that dot the harbor and supply fuel to the New York City metropolis.

By Monday, authorities had skimmed and boomed about 322,000 of the total 378,000 gallons of diesel fuel that had leaked, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Ragonese. Spills of refined fuels are typically easier to clean up as they dissipate more quickly than heavy crude oil.

"There has been a real good response by the company and by the Coast Guard. They have been great," he said. "The contractors the company hired have virtually cleaned up most of that escaped fuel and the bit that's left will be floating to sea... And that was the one major spill we had."

The Coast Guard said about 14,800 feet of boom had been deployed, and 457,519 gallons of oily-water mixture had been recovered at Motiva, which is co-owned by Royal Dutch Shell and state-owned Saudi Aramco.

The Coast Guard also reported that it had recovered 780,000 gallons of an oil-water mixture from Kinder Morgan's Perth Amboy, New Jersey, fuel storage terminal, although Kinder Morgan said that the liquid referred to a clean-up operation at a separate terminal up the river, not its own tanks.

The Coast Guard said contractors were also examining a sheen coming from a nearby Buckeye facility.

It was unclear whether the spill at Phillips 66's 238,000 Bayway refinery would have any impact on operations at the refinery, a major gasoline producer in the region. The earlier Motiva spill prompted the Coast Guard to restrict traffic through the key Arthur Kill waterway, although those limits were lifted by Monday so long as vessels move slowly.

The Linden refinery was shut ahead of Sandy and remained idle even though electrical power was restored to the plant earlier last week.

(Reporting by Selam Gebrekidan and Eileen Houlihan; Editing by Peter Galloway and Andrew Hay)