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Cleanup underway for East River mineral oil spill

NYC Ferry delayed as authorities clean East River of mineral oil that burst out of Con Ed substation over weekend.
A view of the slick on the East River caused by a mineral oil spill. (@kroesserstrat)

A cleanup is ongoing in the East River due to a weekend spill of industrial fluids from an electrical substation, causing delays for the new NYC Ferry service.

Con Ed spokesman Allan Drury said a spill from a 37,000-gallon substation tank in DUMBO caused the incident.

“On Sunday, May 7, a transformer at a substation ruptured,” Drury said. “A lot of it got captured in the substation property itself. … Some of it went into the river.”

Drury said the substance, a “dielectric fluid” that is like a coolant, is not as hazardous to the environment as a substance like crude oil would be.

Gothamist reported that the Coast Guard and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation have set up a “safety zone” south of points across the river from East 25th Street in Manhattan to DuPont Street in Greenpoint, and down to Buttermilk Channel.

The ferry delays are due to the oil spill cleanup requiring a slowdown in all marine traffic on the river to prevent waves or a wake from forming.

Con Ed declined to speculate on how long the cleanup will take.