Cleanup Underway Along New York Shoreline After Fifteen-Inch Hole In Fuel Tank Found

By Jacob H. Zoghlin, Esq.

The Coast Guard and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (the “DEC”) are investigating tar balls and oil sheen that were found at Coney Island and along Long Island beaches in March, 20191.

According to the Coast Guard, oil found in the Arthur Kill waterway may have come from a containership. Officials said that a 15-inch hole was discovered in one of the ship’s fuel tanks, which may have been the source of the spill. After running a chemical fingerprinting of the recovered oil, Coast Guard personnel verified that the spilled oil came from the leaking containership.

At least 87 people and 16 boats responded to assist in cleanup efforts. Captain Jason Tama, the incident coordinator, reassured the public that “our priorities continue to be the safety of everyone involved including the public and responders, and environmental cleanup.”

In our experience, oil spills can be costly and time-consuming to cleanup, and can have far-reaching and unexpected consequences. Under New York Law, an injured person may bring a claim directly against the person or entity that caused a petroleum discharge for costs associated with cleanup, and may recover both direct and indirect damages, including attorneys’ fees. Thus, oil spills can create serious liabilities. Those who think they may have caused an oil spill, or those who believe that someone else’s oil spill is affecting them or their property, should consult an environmental attorney to evaluate their options.

For inquiries related to responding to an oil spill, recovering the costs of cleaning up petroleum contamination, or investigations related to such issues, please contact Jacob H. Zoghlin, Esq. or Mindy L. Zoghlin, Esq.

1 See “Coast Guard Investigating New York Oil Spill,” By Kirk Moore, WorkBoat, April 1, 2019, available at

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