Athos 1  

Oil Spill on the Delaware Bay

Information for the Public
Presented by the University of Delaware Sea Grant Program

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The purpose of this Web site is to help address public questions and concerns about the

Athos I oil spill that occurred in the Delaware River on Friday, Nov. 26, 2004.

The Oil & Its Path

· What is crude oil, and what is it used for?

· Where is the spilled oil most likely to spread?

· How do you clean up
an oil spill?

Impacts on Wildlife & Other Natural Resources

· What wildlife is likely to be affected?

· How will shorelines and marshes be affected?

Impacts on Shipping & Other Industries

· How many ships travel the Delaware River, and what cargo do they carry?

· How did the shipping lanes' temporary closing affect the industry?

Public Safety

· What public advisories have been issued?

· Is drinking water safe?

· Is Delaware Bay seafood safe to eat?

· How do I report property damage?

Public Hearings

· January 18, 2005
Official Transcripts

What You Can Do to Help

· How can I help oiled wildlife?

· How do I report oiled wildlife?

· Follow the latest public advisories

Research & Resources

· University of Delaware

· NOAA, National Sea Grant Library

For More Information

· Conferences

· Federal & State Contacts

· Web Sites

Picture of Athos I and link to the location of spill.
U.S. Coast Guard
  Click here for the latest reports from the U.S. Coast Guard.

On Friday, November 26, 2004, at approximately 9:15 p.m., the 750-foot, single-hull tanker Athos I, registered under the flag of Cyprus, was reported to be leaking oil into the Delaware River en route to its terminal at the CITGO asphalt refinery in Paulsboro, New Jersey. As two tugboats were helping the vessel manuever to its terminal, a routine procedure, one of the tugboat operators noticed oil in the water, and the oil tanker listed eight degrees and lost power. Two punctures in the tanker's hull -- 1-foot-by-2-foot and 1-foot-by-6-foot in size -- later were confirmed by Coast Guard divers.

U.S. Coast Guard
Provided by
U.S. House of Representatives.

On December 7, the Coast Guard announced the presence of a 15-foot curved piece of submerged pipe located 700 feet from the CITGO dock, which has been retrieved (see photo below). On January 18, 2005, the Coast Guard released photographs (see below) of an anchor that has been removed from the Delaware River for analysis as part of their continuing investigation into the spill incident. The anchor and an 8-by-4-foot slab of concrete were found in the tanker's path to the refinery dock.

Pip that caused damage. A 15-foot piece of pipe is removed from the Dela- ware River for analysis in the continuing investigation into the Athos I oil spill. USCG Photo by PA1 Danielle DeMarino


A 15-foot piece of pipe is removed from the Dela-ware River for analysis in the continuing investigation into the Athos I oil spill. USCG Photo by PA1 Danielle DeMarino
Pip that caused damage.

Officials initially estimated the spill at 30,000 gallons of heavy Venezuelan crude oil. However, on December 1, the Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that they believed the spill was much larger, with some 473,500 gallons of oil unaccounted for. On January 14, 2005, the Coast Guard announced that "Now that the ship is out of the water and the [ballast] tanks are clean, we have an 'accurate estimate' of approximately 265,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Delaware River from the T/S Athos I."

The spill has affected approximately 115 miles of shoreline along the tidal portion of the Delaware River, from the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, which links northeast Philadelphia to Palmyra, New Jersey, south to the Smyrna River in Delaware. In response to the initial threat, Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) temporarily closed two reactors at the Salem Nuclear Power Plant along the river at Artificial Island, New Jersey. After a three-day shutdown of the Port of Philadelphia immediately after the spill, commercial vessels were allowed back into the port, but must undergo a decontamination process prior to leaving the affected area.

Hunting & Fishing Advisory Issued. Click Here.
To report oiled wildlife, contact:

Waterfowl have been killed by the spill, and trained wildlife rescue staff are working to save oiled waterfowl that have been captured. The spill occurred near Little Tinicum Island and the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, which are used by some waterfowl year-round and even more extensively during the fall and spring migrations along the Atlantic Flyway. Protective booms have been placed around Delaware's Pea Patch Island, which contains the largest heronry north of Florida on the East Coast.

According to the Coast Guard, 84,020 gallons of oil and oily liquid and 1,8178 gallons of submerged oil have been recovered. Another 7,812 tons of oily solids (cleanup materials and oil) have been collected. Cleanup personnel currently number over 1,300 responders.

The Delaware River and Bay is home to the fifth largest port complex in the United States in total waterborne commerce. Every year, over 70 million tons of cargo move through the tri-state port complex, which includes the major ports of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Camden, Gloucester City, and Salem, New Jersey; and Wilmington, Delaware. It is the second largest oil port in the United States, handling about 85% of the East Coast's oil imports.

Detailed History of DE River Oil Spills Since 1972Major Oil Spills* in the
Delaware River and Bay (1975–2004)

Spill Name





Athos 1


Delaware River, near Philadelphia

Venezuelan Heavy Crude (Bachaquero)

265,000 gallons **

Presidente Rivera


Marcus Hook, PA

#6 Oil, heavy industrial grade

7,310 barrels; 306,000 gallons **

Grand Eagle


Marcus Hook, PA

Ninian Crude Oil

10,357 barrels; 435,000 gallons **



Marcus Hook, PA

Algerian Crude Oil

266,000 barrels**

Source: Office of Response and Restoration, National Ocean Service, NOAA

*Only discharges of more than 100,000 gallons of oil in the Delaware River and Bay are listed on this chart.
** Some spill volumes are reported by federal authorities in only gallons, in only barrels, and in a few instances, both barrels and gallons. Only information verified from the NOAA Office of Response and Restoration Web site has been reported in this chart.

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