Fatal Blast Sparks More than Just Fire

Friday, February 21, 2003
Smoke and flames billowed after an explosion this morning at the ExxonMobil Port Mobil terminal on Staten Island, NY. Barge B#125, operated by Bouchard Transportation, containing 100,000 barrels of unleaded gasoline was being offloaded when the explosion occurred. The fire prompted the U.S. Coast Guard to shut down the Arthur Kills waterway -- a key waterway for New Jersey and New York Harbor refinery and terminal shipments. A man's body was pulled from the water three hours after the fire started about 10 a.m., according to authorities. Two crewmembers aboard the Barge B#125 are still missing.

Bouchard issued a statement expressing concern a environmental impact of the explosion and has retained several companies to contain any spill of gasoline and mitigate any damage. Environmental clean up is being conducted with the U.S. Coast Guard. According to ExxonMobil, a contract company, Clean Harbors, has been mobilized to the incident scene. Clean Harbors will begin work after the fire has been extinguished and the authorities give authorization.

News of the explosion and fire sent crude-oil and gasoline prices higher on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In late trading, crude oil for April delivery was up 86 cents, or 2.5%, to $35.60. March gasoline traded up 3.82 cents, or 4%, to $1.004 a gallon, and April heating oil was up 2.95 cents, or 3.1%, to 99.3 cents a gallon. The explosion and fire could affect petroleum-product shipments from nearby oil refiners and cut off a significant source of New York Harbor gasoline, industry sources said.

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