Thousands of gallons of oil flood the Naugatuck River

Thousands of gallons of hydraulic oil leaked from a Waterbury manufacturing company into the Naugatuck River over the weekend.

On Saturday, Jan. 20 approximately 6,000 gallons of hydraulic oil leaked from Olin Brass, a manufacturing facility at around 3 p.m.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) says a valve for a container of oil at Olin Brass froze and subsequently burst when it thawed, which caused the oil to leak into the river. 

According to officials, DEEP Hazmat, the EPA and the Waterbury Fire Department responded to the scene after the leak occurred.

The DEEP said the Waterbury Fire Department placed booms at the location of the discharge pipe at the intersection of South Main Street and Piedmont Street. A containment boom is a temporary floating barrier used to contain an oil spill. Booms are used to reduce the possibility of polluting shorelines and other resources, and to help make recovery easier.

DEEP Spokesman David Poynton, said the cleanup crew was unable to contain the entire spill to where leak originated and therefore oil has made its way down the river into the Housatonic River and communities such as Shelton.

At this point, the DEEP said the spill hasn’t had an effect on wildlife, but have advised people not to eat any of the fish caught in the river. Catch and release is permitted.

Leon Sylvester, who is an avid fisherman and has been in charge of running the river cleanup for nearly 15 years, said he suspects that the spill will have a larger impact on birds and waterfowl than fish.

“Birds such as eagles, herons, swans and ducks will be more affected in my opinion by the residue oil along the banks and rocks as it will get in their feathers and interfere with flight as well as getting them sick from digestion of it,” said Sylvester.

Sylvester said he wasn’t satisfied with the public warning of the spill.

“No or non sufficient public warning of the spill was given, just as there was with the sewage spill,” said Sylvester in reference to the sewage spill that took place back in October 2017. “People were wading in river and touching fish and water polluted with oil.”

Despite it being an accident, there has been no confirmation yet on whether or not Olin Brass will face consequences for the leak.

UPDATE: At 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 22 Sylvester reported that oil was showing again and there were some dead floating striped bass in the river.