Oil Spills in the Arthur Kill and Kill Van Kull Waterways in New York

The Arthur Kill and its sister channel Kill Van Kull form a 16-mile channel that connects northern New Jersey and Staten Island, making it an important route in the northeastern United States. For over 100 years the channel has served as an industrial dumpsite and sewer system for local communities, and has been home to growing industries. It has also endured many small oil spills that destroyed local flora and fauna, although these incidents were never publicized. However, four oil spills in January 1990, including one by Exxon Valdez, sparked national interest in preserving the kills for future industrial travel and environmental biodiversity. Today, nearly three-quarters of the 70 oil-related vessel movements in the Port of New York travel through the kills, and over 200 industry-related businesses are found along the banks.

Contributed by Cassandra Denger
Course: Global Environmental History
Instructor: Andrew Stuhl, Ph.D.
Bucknell University, Lewisburg, US

Further Readings: 
  • Nixon, Will. "Life after an oil spill." E: The Environmental Magazine 6, no. 2 (1995): 18.
  • Burger, Johanna, ed. Before and After an Oil Spill: The Arthur Kill. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1994.