On May 10, 1996, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) reported that the Bahamian-flagged T/V Anitra spilled approximately 10,000 gallons of Nigerian light crude oil while the vessel was in the process of lightering more than 40 million gallons of oil. On May 19, 1996, the USCG reported that as much as 42,000 gallons of oil were released into Big Stone Anchorage, Delaware Bay, where the vessel was anchored. Cold and stormy weather during the spill caused the oil to mix into the water column, forming tarballs. The T/V Anitra was secured and boomed following the release. The USCG reported 12,000 gallons of oil were recovered in the vicinity of the vessel within the first 72 hours following the spill.
Over 50 miles of beaches were oiled over a 2-week period, including at least some oiling of several State wildlife management areas, two State parks, and the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. An estimated 3 miles of beach (Higbee and Sunset) were impacted with tarballs from May 12-16, 1996. On May 17, varying densities of tarballs washed up on 8 miles of Atlantic Ocean shoreline in Stone Harbor, Avalon, Sea Isle City, and Ocean City. The Governor of New Jersey declared a Limited State of Emergency in Cape May County, and limited public access to beaches. On May 18, the tarballs continued to drift northward and washed up on beaches in Longport, Margate, Ventnor, and Atlantic City. On May 19, tarballs came ashore in Brigantine and later as far north as Holgate.