At approximately 11:05 a.m. on September 27, 1996, the oil tanker Julie N, inbound with a cargo of 8.8 million gallons of #2 fuel oil, struck the south side of the Million Dollar Bridge spanning Portland Harbor between Portland and South Portland as it went through the draw span. Following the collision, the vessel proceeded one mile up the Fore River to the Rolling Mills Terminal where it was boomed off.
In the collision with the bridge, the Julie N sustained a substantial hole to its port bow area. The forward bunker tank lost approximately 93,198 gallons of IFO 380 heavy fuel oil. The #1 port cargo tank lost approximately 86,436 gallons of #2 diesel, totaling 179,634 gallons of spilled oil. High winds and extremely high tides on September 28th and 29th caused an unspecified amount of oil to be released from the boomed area and to be carried into the upper Fore River and the Stroudwater marsh area, including Long Creek. The Portland side of the river was more heavily oiled than the South Portland side, which had areas that remained almost oil-free. Recovery efforts continued until clean up was declared complete on December 2, 1996; the final tally indicated that while 140,976 gallons of oil were recovered, approximately 38,658 gallons of oil were lost to the environment.
The Julie N oil spill being contained., Credit: USFWS