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Coast Guard hauls mystery out of river

PHILADELPHIA – Turns out the “pipe” that punctured a Greek tanker last month and caused a massive oil spill on the Delaware River wasn’t a pipe after all.

Dozens of engineers and other experts said Friday that the large hunk of iron the Coast Guard hauled out of the water Thursday was the top half of the housing of a large centrifugal pump.

The housing could have come from a dredging operation or a water or sewage plant, they said. How it got to the bottom of the Delaware, however, remained a mystery.

“It’s not something that you have to put under a microscope and say, ‘Ah, it’s this.’ It’s obvious,” said Frederick Blum, a mechanical engineer with Paul Zamrowski Associates Inc. in Berwyn, Pa. “Any engineer knows what it is. The real interesting question, in my opinion, is: How did it get there, whose is it?”

But the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard were mum Friday on the “metal object” and its origins.

“Everybody I talk to has got an opinion about this,” said Merv Brokke, an Army Corps of Engineers spokesman. “We’re going to let the investigative team take a look at it and let them study it and let them come up with their conclusions.”

The pump housing was taken to a Coast Guard facility in Philadelphia on Thursday for evaluation, but officials there had no new information to release Friday.


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