OT: Pipeline spills oil into Philadelphia wildlife refuge (Sunoco)

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Pipeline spills oil into Philadelphia wildlife refuge

The Associated Press 02/07/00 6:49 AM Eastern

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Thousands of gallons of crude oil spilled into a national wildlife refuge in southwest Philadelphia during the weekend after a refinery pipeline leak.

The 24-inch pipe began leaking Saturday and spread at least 32,000 gallons of oil beneath the icy surface of a 145-acre pond at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, officials said.

Scientists aren't sure how wildlife in the 1,200-acre reserve will be affected, though birds and wildlife do not frequent the pond when it is frozen.

"It's what we can't see that we're concerned about -- the aquatic life," said Dick Nugent of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "We do have state-threatened and endangered species here, including the red-bellied turtle and the coastal leopard frog that could be using habitats like this."

Clean up crews were working round-the-clock Sunday to remove the oil.

"This is a very unique situation. We've never had, in my experience, an oil recovery situation beneath the surface of ice," said John McCann of the Sunoco Refinery, which has five pipelines through the refuge.

Investigators won't know what caused the underground pipe to leak until they dig it up, he said. The pipe starts at the Hog Island oil terminal and ends at a tank farm in Darby Township.

A hiker discovered the rupture.

Each year, about 100,000 people visit the 1,200-acre wildlife refuge, which is named for the late Pennsylvania senator and located between a Sunoco oil refinery field, an airport and Interstate 95.

-- Homer Beanfang (Bats@inbellfry.com), February 07, 2000

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