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Up to 9,000 gallons of oil spill into N.J. river

Authorities were investigating the release Sunday of thousands of gallons of fuel oil into the Passaic River, causing spots of slick stretching from Totowa to Paterson.
A large tractor spreads an absorbent material on an oil spill from a storage tank at the Tilcon asphalt plant in Totowa, N.J., Sunday.Mike Derer / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Authorities on Monday continued to use floating booms and large trucks equipped with vacuums in an intensive waterway cleanup the day after thousands of gallons of industrial oil leaked into the Passaic River.

Officials said the spots of oil slick stretched from the origin — asphalt maker Tilcon in Totowa — through Paterson's Great Falls and further down the river toward Newark Bay.

A tank at Tilcon that holds oil to heat furnaces to produce asphalt leaked into a nearby storm drain and into a Passaic River estuary on Sunday, and local officials estimate that somewhere between 4,000 and 9,000 gallons of oil made it into the river.

"We'll be there as long as we have to be there to clean it up," said Elaine Makatura, a state Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman.

Makatura said she didn't know how long it would take the cleanup to finish and that the cause of the leak is under investigation.

She said that the DEP has hired two firms to assist with the remediation effort on the river's shores and that Tilcon has hired one of its own.

Although the spots of slick on top of the river are wide-ranging, local officials said drinking water had not been affected.

A call on Monday to a Tilcon spokeswoman at its corporate offices in Wharton was not immediately returned.