15 March 1994, the barge Cynthia M was listing 70 degrees when she
was moored to the landing stage at the Kuehne chemical plant, south
of Kearny, New Jersey. The barge had a capacity of 1,300 m³
and was loaded with a cargo of 1,200 m³ of caustic soda 30 %
On 16 March, approximately 570 m³ of the soda solution were spilled in Hackensack River and Newark Bay. At 12:35 pm, the pH beside the barge was 12, but by 3:35 pm it had lowered to 9. Only the area immediately surrounding the barge was affected by the pollution.
According to final estimations, the barge lost her entire cargo. Recovery was impossible as the chemical immediately dissolved in the water.
The spill affected birds, caused the death of fish and destroyed the surrounding marshlands.
The possibility of adding weak acid to neutralise the alkali solution was studied, but NOAA recommended the use of fire hoses to increase dilution and to encourage the dissolution of the substance in the water column.
Name: Cynthia M
Date: 15 March 1994
Accident area : Kuehne Chemical factory, south of Kearny, New Jersey
Quantity transported : 1,034 tonnes
Type of pollutant : 30 % caustic soda solution
Ship type : barge
Cause of spill : grounding
Quantity spilled : 490 tonnes
Last update: June 2011