Rep. LoBiondo: How Can We Prevent Another Oil Spill?

Friday, January 21, 2005
Chairman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-2) precides over a hearing into the cause of the recent oil spill on the Delaware River. Chairman LoBiondo heard testimony from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Departments of Environmental Protection from both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the Maritime Exchange from the Delaware Bay and River, and the New Jersey Audubon Society.

Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-2), Chairman of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, held a hearing on the recent Delaware River oil spill to evaluate the incident response, discuss future prevention efforts, and to determine the environmental impact of the spill.

Chairman LoBiondo was joined by several witnesses including Rear Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara, Commander, Fifth District, United States Coast Guard; Captain Jonathan D. Sarubbi, Captain, Port of Philadelphia; Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Ruch, Commander, Philadelphia District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Bradley Campbell, Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; Kathleen McGinty, Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; Dennis Rochford, President, Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay, and Eric P. Stiles, Vice President for Conservation and Stewardship, New Jersey Audubon Society.

“I commend the Coast Guard and other federal, state, and local officials for their quick response to the spill and their efforts to minimize the extent of this disaster. Following the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) which improved the federal government’s ability to prevent and respond to oil spills. This Act directed the Coast Guard to develop and maintain specific contingency plans for spills in coastal waters throughout the United States. It is vital for us to know more about the coordination and completeness of response efforts to the incident under the Delaware River Plan, and whether any improvements should be made to the Act to help prevent further incidents and ensure the viability of our ecologically sensitive coastal waters. “It is important to find out how such a large obstruction came to be located in the middle of a shipping channel that is used by large oil tankers each and every day. Obstructions like this not only pose a huge risk to the safety of the vessel and the coastal environment, but also to the efficient movement of goods and cargo in the maritime transportation system. I understand the investigation into the origins of the object is ongoing, but we must discuss what efforts are being made to locate and remove or mark any similar obstructions from the Delaware River and other important U.S. waterways.

“The safety and security of the maritime transportation system will remain a primary concern of this Subcommittee in the 109th Congress. Our ports provide the entry point for more than ninety-five percent of all United States overseas trade. The maritime transportation industry provides employment to hundreds of thousands of Americans and is an integral part of the U.S. economy. The nation depends on the safe and efficient transport of commerce via the maritime transportation system. This Subcommittee will continue to oversee the industry and will develop and move legislation to improve the safety and security of America’s ports and vessels operating in U.S. waters.”

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