Tankers and Oil Transfer Operations on the Delaware River and Bay

CED-77-124: Published: Aug 23, 1977. Publicly Released: Aug 25, 1977.

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Recent accidents in the Delaware River and Bay raised questions regarding operations of oil tankers in those waters. More than 4,000 vessels arrive yearly at the ports along the Delaware, about 40 percent of which are oil tankers.

From 1973 to 1976, 180 oil pollution incidents involving tankers were reported, seven of these with oilspills of more than 10,000 gallons. In most cases, the Coast Guard attributed the primary cause to human error or equipment failure. Coast Guard activities for protection of the environment and safety of vessels include: inspecting a sample of U.S. and foreign tankers; monitoring a percentage of liquid bulk transfer operations involving oil or hazardous substances; and performing periodic inspections of the structure, machinery, and equipment of all U.S. ships. Since January 1977, the Coast Guard has expanded its programs of inspection and safety requirements. The Coast Guard is working to improve aids to navigation on the Delaware River and Bay, and the Corps of Engineers has recently received approval for a project to improve one of the anchorages on the river. The safety of oil shipping and transfer operations on the Delaware River have not changed materially over the years 1973 to 1976; steps taken since January 1977 should improve safety in this area.

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