Audio of Governor's Update Available Here
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today delivered an update on the State’s response to a tugboat accident and resulting fuel spill on the Hudson River.
One tugboat crew member is deceased, and State Police divers are coordinating with the U.S. Coast Guard and local law enforcement to locate two remaining crew members who are unaccounted for. The State Department of Environmental Conservation and a private contractor have deployed a Rapid Response Team and monitoring equipment to contain leaking fuel from the sunken tug.
"Today's accident was a tragedy, and we offer our thoughts and prayers to loved ones of the crew members aboard the tugboat," Governor Cuomo said. "The State is actively working with our partners in law enforcement in locating the missing crew members and minimizing environmental damage along the Hudson River. We will conduct a full investigation to understand exactly what led to today's events and provide more information as it becomes available."
Summary of Incident
Early Saturday morning, three tugboats were transporting a barge with construction equipment southbound on the Hudson River. The barge and accompanying tugs did not come down the middle of a 600-foot-wide U.S. Coast Guard designated channel, instead approaching too close to a construction barge stationed next to Pier 31, where work on the Tappan Zee bridge replacement is happening. One of those tugs, by the name of Specialist, struck the Tappan Zee barge and sunk.
Tappan Zee Constructors, the builders of the bridge replacement, had a crew of 13 workers on their barge at the time; none were injured when the tugboat struck.
After striking the barge, the tugboat began leaking up to 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel, creating a fuel slick approximately 100 yards wide and 5 miles long.
Local law enforcement deployed a fuel-containing apparatus to the water due to a visible sheen. Westchester County has initiated a cleanup agreement with a private party, Miller Environmental Group, to manage the diesel spill. Personnel from the State Department of Environment Conservation's Oil Spill Team are on the scene to monitor and support the cleanup with two DEC vessels – a 31 foot with a crew of three and a 44 foot with a crew of three.
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner John P. Melville said: "The Division's Office of Emergency Management and Fire Prevention and Control staff are providing command and control support and will continue to assist local, state and federal first responders during this incident."
State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico said: "The State Police have been working with our local law enforcement partners as well as first responders and the U.S. Coast Guard on rescue and recovery efforts since the accident was first reported. Our divers are working now to determine the position of the sunken tug so a decision can be made on how recovery operations will proceed."
Acting DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said: "DEC crews are on site monitoring oil spill cleanup operations to ensure minimal impacts to the environment. Spill responders will remain on-site as long as necessary until cleanup is complete."