(12/P30) TRENTON - The Department of Environmental Protection, NJ TRANSIT, Washington Township and the Gloucester County Health Department are advising the public that fishing and all other water-related activities on Grenloch Lake are suspended until further notice while monitoring and cleanup activities related to a Jan. 12 fuel spill from a nearby NJ TRANSIT bus garage continue. Grenloch Lake Park will remain open for all other recreational activities.
"While there has been significant progress in the cleanup of Grenloch Lake, out of an abundance of caution the DEP will not stock the lake with trout for the upcoming trout season and has closed the lake to all fishing," said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. "In addition, the township, DEP, NJ Transit and the Gloucester County Health Department are advising the public that the lake not be used for swimming, wading or boating. We are also jointly advising the public to avoid allowing pets to enter the water while these activities continue."
NJ TRANSIT and the DEP have been working closely with local officials and legislators, advising them on progress of cleanup of diesel fuel that spilled into the lake as a result of the leak from underground fuel storage tanks.
"I have said this before and I will say this again. Our neighbors in Gloucester and Camden counties can be assured that NJ TRANSIT is committed to being a continued and consistent presence within the community as we continue our work to alleviate the impact of the spill," said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director James Weinstein.
NJ TRANSIT and its contractors have continued to work to remove the residual petroleum contamination from Grenloch Lake and its adjacent wetlands. While the overwhelming majority of the cleanup has been completed, a small amount of oil remains along parts of the shoreline and wetlands. Petroleum odors may be noticeable in the Grenloch Lake area as the result of warmer weather accelerating the evaporation of this fuel.
"Washington Township supports the decision of the DEP and defers to their experts," said Washington Township Mayor Barbara Wallace. "While we are disheartened that Grenloch Lake will be closed for the near future, we support this cautionary decision."
NJ TRANSIT continues to conduct periodic surface water and sediment sampling along all local water bodies impacted by the spill, under DEP guidance. Tissue samples have been taken from fish from impacted water bodies, although there have not been any significant fish kills associated with the spill. Results of these test samples are pending.
Over the past two weeks, the DEP has observed a number of dead turtles in and around the lake. The cause of these deaths is under investigation. Tissue samples have been sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Grenloch Lake is a popular fishing spot with the start of the spring trout season, which begins April 7. The DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife has decided not to stock the lake with trout due to the ongoing cleanup. Fish that would have been stocked in Grenloch Lake are instead being stocked at other nearby lakes.
DEP-stocked trout lakes nearby include Greenwich Lake in Greenwich, Iona Lake in Franklin, Swedesboro Lake in Swedesboro, Westville Lake in Westville, Oak Pond in Winslow, Gloucester City Pong in Gloucester City, Haddon Lake in Haddon Township, and Rowands Pond in Clementon.
An estimated 26,000 gallons of diesel fuel leaked from the NJ Transit bus facility in Washington Township on Jan. 12 when a gasket failed in the facility's fuel storage tanks. The following is an update on cleanup process.
* NJ TRANSIT has worked closely with the DEP, together with Emergency Management officials in Gloucester and Camden counties, to mitigate the impact of the spill. To assist with the cleanup, NJ TRANSIT hired Clean Venture, which deployed more than 2,000 feet of containment boom, as well as several boats, pumps and vacuum trucks to remove product from waterways. Tri-State Bird Rescue was also enlisted and worked with the DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife to respond to reports of impacted wildlife.
* In addition, monitoring of air and drinking water has continued by health officials, with no impacts or health concerns found. NJ TRANSIT continues to conduct periodic water sampling and testing in the future, under DEP guidance.
* To date, NJ TRANSIT has recovered more than 9,200 gallons of diesel fuel from the tank farm and affected waterways, with an undeterminable amount of fuel having evaporated. Nearly 650 tons of soil have been removed and disposed, and more than 110 tons of oil-soaked absorbents and debris have been removed from the spill area.
In consultation with the DEP, NJ TRANSIT has:
* Relocated the fuel spill alarm panel to a spot in the bus garage where it is more visible to personnel.
* Installed an improved audible and visual alarm system consisting of a flashing light and horn which will be apparent throughout the maintenance shop and which also will continue to flash and sound until there is a proactive response by garage management.
* Installed liquid sensors in each valve pit, to detect the presence of leaks.
* Modified the bus fueling protocol, and modified the fluid management system to automatically shut off the fuel pumps after each fueling is completed, providing a backup to ensure pumps are shut off.
The NJ TRANSIT hot line number remains in effect, with residents encouraged to call 1.800.626.7433 with any questions or concerns.