Federal and state agencies received $27.5 million to restore conditions for fish, birds, sensitive habitats, wildlife and recreational use of the Delaware River areas impacted in 2004 by an oil spill from the vessel Athos I. NOAA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, collectively received the funds from the U.S. Coast Guard Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for nine restoration projects.
On Nov. 26, 2004, the Athos I, a large cargo vessel, struck a submerged anchor while preparing to dock in Paulsboro, N.J. The anchor punctured the hull, spilling nearly 265,000 gallons of crude oil into the Delaware River, affecting habitats, aquatic life, birds and other wildlife over 280 miles of shoreline, as well as hindering recreational use of the river.
Under the Oil Pollution Act, states and designated federal agencies are trustees that evaluate the damage to and loss of natural resources from an oil spill and restore the habitat and resources to pre-existing conditions. Because the damage exceeded the statutory limits of liability of the owners of Athos I, the trustees submitted a claim to the U.S. Coast Guard National Pollution Funds Center.
The projects will include:
Freshwater tidal wetlands restoration at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge (Pa.)
Creation of oyster reefs (N.J., Del.)
Darby Creek dam removal and stream habitat restoration (Pa.)
Habitat restoration (marsh, grassland and meadow) at Mad Horse Creek Wildlife Management Area (N.J.)
Shoreline restoration at Lardner’s Point (Pa.)
Blackbird Reserve Wildlife Area habitat restoration (pond and pasture enhancement) (Del.)
Improving the Stow Creek boat ramp (N.J.)
Installation of a rock jetty at Augustine Boat Ramp to address ongoing shoaling immediately offshore of the boat ramp (Del.)
Enhancing the recreational trail on Little Tinicum Island (Pa.)
source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service