High winds hamper N.J. oil spill cleanup
PAULSBORO, N.J. - February 25, 2012 (WPVI) -- Wind gusts pushed oil fumes into the homes of Paulsboro residents, while cleanup crews battled high winds to contain the oil from Thursday's spill at a New Jersey refinery.
Saturday residents in Paulsboro, New Jersey and surrounding communities were staying indoors. Paulsboro is the location of the refinery and the residents say the smell was worse there.
Residents say it was a nauseating stench carried by 45 mph winds across South Jersey Saturday.
"It's just an awful smell. All day and all night as soon as you wake up and as soon as you go to sleep, it creeps in through the windows, through the air conditioner," said Michal Kamarauskas.
"We have to cover our faces just to take the dogs out," said Mike IlDefonso. "We have candles in every room because the smell is so bad. This is the worse it has ever been."
6.3 million gallons of crude oil leaked from a tank into an emergency containment area at the refinery Thursday.
Foam was spread to help with the odor, but it was no match for the rain and nearly 45 mile per hour winds.
State environmental officials say the fumes are irritating but not toxic, but as a precaution, the elderly and people with breathing problems should limit their time outdoors.
A number of people still complaining of feeling sick on Saturday, and they say the spill is to blame.
"I don't know if it's a coincidence, but this morning I woke up with a bad headache, and I don't know whether it's some of the stuff we've been breathing or not. I don't get them too often," said Joe Bordenga. "But when I went out this morning, it was terrible."
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection says the fumes may cause minor eye and respiratory irritation, but will not cause any long term health problems.
"This is the worst we've ever seen it, and we have to close the fireplace now because it's seeping in. If you go outside you can't take it too long, it makes you gag," said Mike IlDefonso.
Residents, especially those with small children, are concerned.
"I don't know if the fumes are going to affect her lungs, she's a little baby, she's 6 months old, and I don't know if they're going to bother her lungs," said Michael Kamarauskas.
Those who live next to the refinery have been finding specks of oil on their cars.
"They kept saying just the odor was all we smelled, nothing else was airborne and apparently that's not true looking at our vehicles," said Kathy Kimmerley.
New Jersey's lieutenant governor says the spill should be cleaned up in the next few days.
Environmental officials also say the spill is not expected to impact the Delaware River or local water supplies.
oil spill, new jersey, local/state, kenneth moton
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