Quantcast

'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."

Sponsored
On thin ice. Christopher Michel / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The Russian military is taking measures to protect the residents of a remote Arctic settlement from a mass of polar bears, German press agency DPA reported.

The move comes after regional authorities declared a state of emergency over the weekend after sightings of more than 50 bears in the town of Belushya Guba since December.

Read More Show Less

This year's letter from Bill and Melinda Gates focused on nine things that surprised them. For the Microsoft-cofounder, one thing he was surprised to learn was the massive amount of new buildings the planet should expect in the coming decades due to urban population growth.

"The number of buildings in the world is going to double by 2060. It's like we're going to build a new New York City every month for the next 40 years," he said.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Over the past few years, it seems vegan cooking has gone from 'brown rice and tofu' to a true art form. These amazing cooks show off the creations on Instagram—and we can't get enough.

Read More Show Less
The USS Ashland, followed by the USS Green Bay, in the Philippine Sea on Jan. 21. U.S. Department of Defense

By Shana Udvardy

After a dearth of action on climate change and a record year of extreme events in 2017, the inclusion of climate change policies within the annual legislation Congress considers to outline its defense spending priorities (the National Defense Authorization Act) for fiscal year 2018 was welcome progress. House and Senate leaders pushed to include language that mandated that the Department of Defense (DoD) incorporate climate change in their facility planning (see more on what this section of the bill does here and here) as well as issue a report on the impacts of climate change on military installations. Unfortunately, what DoD produced fell far short of what was mandated.

Read More Show Less
The Paradise Fossil Plant in western Kentucky. CC BY 3.0

Trump is losing his rallying cry to save coal. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) voted on Thursday to retire two coal-fired power plants in the next few years despite a plea from the president to keep one of the plants open.

Earlier this week, the president posted an oddly specific tweet that urged the government-owned utility to save the 49-year-old Paradise 3 plant in Kentucky. It so happens that the facility burns coal supplied by Murray Energy Corporation, whose CEO is Robert Murray, is a major Trump donor.

Read More Show Less