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Barge Hits Ledge off New London, Conn., Leaks 3,000 Gallons of Oil

December 21, 1992

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) _ A barge hit a ledge in the mouth of New London Harbor early this morning, spilling about 3,000 gallons of light heating oil, Coast Guard officials said.

Officials said it was too early to say how much of an environmental threat the spill posed. But William Hegener, director of the oil and chemical spill response division of the state Department of Environmental Protection, said 3,000 gallons ″is not a lot of oil.″

″I would say that the chance of serious environmental damage at this point is minimal,″ Hegener said.

Wind this morning was blowing to the southeast, pushing the oil toward Fishers Island, in Long Island Sound about 1,500 yards offshore, Hegener said.

The barge hit Black Ledge, an area of shoals in the mouth of the Thames River in New London Harbor, said Lt. Commander Phillip Heyl, executive officer for the Coast Guard’s Group Long Island Sound.

Heyl said the barge was still leaking oil late this morning. He said officials believed the bottom of the barge was damaged.

The oil leaked from a tank, one of 12 in on the barge, that was carrying 39,000 gallons of No. 2 heating oil, Heyl said. The barge has a capacity of nearly 1.3 million gallons, Heyl said.

A boom used to contain oil spills has been placed around the front of the barge, McArdle said. He identified the company that owns the barge as RTC No. 2 Corp. from Newark, N.J., and said it had hired a private contractor to clean up the spill. The unmanned barge was being pulled from New York City, officials said.

Heyl said No. 2 heating oil, used for home heating, is a relatively light oil that stays on the surface of the water, and most of it will evaporate. Because it forms only a thin layer, it is difficult to skim off the surface of the water, Heyl said.

Coast Guard officials planned to transfer all of the fuel from the ruptured tank into the barge’s other tanks, then later transfer all of the barge’s cargo to another barge, Heyl said.

The Coast Guard had a cutter, patrol boats, a buoy tender, investigators and a diver on the scene, Heyl said. State environmental officials also were on the scene.

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