Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

'Catastrophic' Failure at Brooklyn Con Ed Spills 37,000 Gallons of Transformer Oil

Popular
'Catastrophic' Failure at Brooklyn Con Ed Spills 37,000 Gallons of Transformer Oil
A Con Ed substation in Brooklyn spilled transformer oil into the East River. @kroesserstrat

A U.S. Coast Guard said that "catastrophic transformer failure" at a Con Edison station in downtown Brooklyn, New York caused 37,000 gallons of dielectric fluid, or transformer insulating oil, to leak onto property grounds and into the East River on Sunday.


As reported by Gothamist, witnesses said the oil slick could be seen all the way in the Queens borough.

The exact amount of oil released into the river is currently unclear, but the New York City Patch reported the Coast Guard needed to declare a "safety zone" in waters around the Greenpoint, Midtown and Red Hook neighborhoods as the discharge spread into the river Monday night. The safety zone was still in effect on Tuesday.

"Recreational and human powered vessels may not enter, remain in, or transit through the Safety Zone during the enforcement period unless authorized by the Coast Guard Captain of the Port or designated Coast Guard personnel," a spokeswoman said. "Mariners are requested to exercise caution while in the area."

Coast Guard spokeswoman Allyson Conroy told Patch that while dielectric fluid is considered hazardous, it is not as toxic as diesel fuel or petroleum.

However, Conroy added that "if humans do get in contact with it," they should immediately "wash their skin and avoid touching their eyes."

In a statement, Con Edison said employees and environmental contractors are working on the cleaning and containing the spill. The company is also "working cooperatively" with the U.S. Coast Guard, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and other agencies. Crews are using skimmers and absorbent materials to soak up as much fluid as possible.

The New York utility noted that the equipment failure also caused a system voltage dip that impacted the MTA's signaling systems on Sunday, resulting in a disruption to some train service.

"We continue to assess the volume of oil that migrated to the East River, and how much oil remains in the ground on our property," Con Edison stated. "The Coast Guard has issued reduced speed restrictions for commercial vessels operating in the area, and banning recreational vessels, to assist the cleanup process. We are taking all actions to contain and clean up the oil as safely and as quickly as possible."

A dugong, also called a sea cow, swims with golden pilot jacks near Marsa Alam, Egypt, Red Sea. Alexis Rosenfeld / Getty Images

In 2010, world leaders agreed to 20 targets to protect Earth's biodiversity over the next decade. By 2020, none of them had been met. Now, the question is whether the world can do any better once new targets are set during the meeting of the UN Convention on Biodiversity in Kunming, China later this year.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

President Joe Biden signs executive orders in the State Dining Room at the White House on Jan. 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images

By Andrew Rosenberg

The first 24 hours of the administration of President Joe Biden were filled not only with ceremony, but also with real action. Executive orders and other directives were quickly signed. More actions have followed. All consequential. Many provide a basis for not just undoing actions of the previous administration, but also making real advances in public policy to protect public health, safety, and the environment.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Melting ice forms a lake on free-floating ice jammed into the Ilulissat Icefjord during unseasonably warm weather on July 30, 2019 near Ilulissat, Greenland. Sean Gallup / Getty Images

A first-of-its-kind study has examined the satellite record to see how the climate crisis is impacting all of the planet's ice.

Read More Show Less
Probiotic rich foods. bit245 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Ana Maldonado-Contreras

Takeaways

  • Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria that are vital for keeping you healthy.
  • Some of these microbes help to regulate the immune system.
  • New research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, shows the presence of certain bacteria in the gut may reveal which people are more vulnerable to a more severe case of COVID-19.

You may not know it, but you have an army of microbes living inside of you that are essential for fighting off threats, including the virus that causes COVID-19.

Read More Show Less
Michael Mann photo inset by Joshua Yospyn.

By Jeff Masters, Ph.D.

The New Climate War: the fight to take back our planet is the latest must-read book by leading climate change scientist and communicator Michael Mann of Penn State University.

Read More Show Less