Crews are still present along the Mantua Creek, but in far fewer numbers. Little to no petroleum remains upstream. Over the past couple of weeks, crews were able to remove much of the product where it collected, along with saturated debris, while Mother Nature has repeatedly flushed the creek with several heavy rains. One by one, the absorbent boons have been removed. The boon located at the Mantua Creek bridge remains in place and will remain there through the next anticipated rains. There are still diminishing spots ever of dull grey sheening due to the emulsified product, but these have been joined natural sheening along the tidal marshes. The odor has largely dissipated but does remains faintly detectable in places. DEP will remain on-site monitoring the situation. The next round of rains is anticipated to go far in returning the lower part of the creek to full health. Although the creek has nearly returned to its previous state, until further notice, it’s probably still best to not let your pets drink or swim in the creek.
As the health of the creek returns, so does the wildlife. Today, a beaver that was previously captured and rehabilitated was returned to the creek in the Tall Pines State Preserve. The beaver took a quick dip, found a suitable tree, and returned to doing what beavers do… chewing on trees.
Crews worked through the weekend maintaining clean-up efforts. The prolonged rains had a positive flushing effect on the creek. Some upstream boons are collecting little to no emulsified oil. Cleanup personnel did not observe any pockets of trapped product throughout the day yesterday (Monday). Sheens have become light to moderate dull gray, with little of the rainbow sheens that were observed last week. The odor has also subsided noticeably. The NJ DEP has remained on location throughout the weekend to the present.
Although there are reports of oiled beavers, with at least one deceased and another captured for treatment, there are no reports of any waterfowl in distress or oiled.
Update on the Mantua Creek fuel spill (12/14/18).
Dozens of personnel from Miller Environmental are working along the Mantua Creek. The work crews have been focusing on recovering emulsified fuel product found on numerous natural collection points (snags, downed trees, turns). Crews are also continuing to recover product from several absorbent boons that have been placed along the creek from Rt. 55 in Deptford Twp. down to 1st Venue in West Deptford Twp. Vacuum trucks are being used to recover product that is accessible from a roadway. However, much of the recovery effort involves crews entering the water in remote locations. The work is tedious and involved.
The assessment of the impact of wildlife along the watershed is continuing today. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP) remains actively involved. Our lines of communication extend to Trenton – we’ve made it clear that this spill must be remediated as quickly as possible.
How did this happen? A tanker truck was involved in an accident last Wednesday, December 5th. This accident resulted in a fuel leak. Some fuel found its way into a drain that led to the Mantua Creek. This drain was hidden under vegetation and was not immediately discovered.
How much fuel spilled into the Creek? It is unknown how much fuel product entered the creek. The tanker truck was missing several thousand gallons, but some of this was contained on-site, while some unknown quantity found its way to the creek.
How long will the clean-up last? There is no end date set for the clean-up. Crews will remain until the work is completed. We are unaware of how long this may be. Portions of the creek are remote, but crews are making progress and working their way down stream.
What about our lakes? Only the Mantua Creek is impacted. Our lakes are not affected. The various streams and tributaries feeding the creek are also not affected.
How can I help? We ask residents to not interfere with the work crews. They have the necessary training and equipment and are systematically addressing the remediation effort. However, if you do see any wildlife that has been oiled or appears to be in distress, please report it the Wenonah OEM. I am sure we will need help down the line. Once we do, we'll send out the word.
What precautions should I take? The odor remains strong along portions of the creek. It is advisable for people and pets to avoid contact with the water until further notice.
This spill not only impacted Wenonah, but also Deptford, Mantua Township, West Deptford, and others along the creek as it finds its way to the Delaware River. Officials from the affected communities along with the County and State have been engaged throughout this event, including our local and county Offices of Emergency Management (OEM).
The Mantua Creek watershed is a shared treasure for all of these communities. This event is truly heartbreaking for all of us. Any questions, please contact OEM at wenonahemergencymanagement@
John R. Dominy, Mayor