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14,000 Gallons of Oil Spill in Mass. Bay

April 28, 2003

BOSTON (AP) _ A ruptured barge spilled at least 14,700 gallons of fuel oil in Buzzards Bay, a prime shellfishing area on the Massachusetts coast, the Coast Guard said Monday.

A Coast Guard cutter equipped with an oil skimming system and a private cleanup vessel were headed to the site, which was about four miles southwest of Woods Hole, said Petty Officer Keith Alholm.

It was too early to say if the spill would affect Buzzards Bay shellfish beds, said Suzanne Tavani, a spokeswoman for the barge owner, Bouchard Transportation Co. Inc., of Hicksville, N.Y.

Buzzards Bay is one of the state’s best shellfishing areas, producing quahogs, softshell clams, scallops and oysters. State officials had not closed the area to fishing but asked dredge boats operating in deeper water in the area to return to port, said Dave Whittaker, a senior marine fisheries biologist at the state Division of Marine Fisheries.

Alholm said a 12-foot by 2-foot crack was found in the barge Sunday evening. The cause of the crack was still under investigation.

The escaping oil had been contained by floating booms, Alholm said. But he didn’t know if the leak had been plugged or how much escaped before the booms were put in place.

Buzzards Bay is west of Cape Cod in southeastern Massachusetts.

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On the Net:

Division of Marine Fisheries: http://www.state.ma.us/dfwele/dmf/

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