Downriver, small streaks of oil stretched beyond New Castle, Del., to Pea Patch Island, near the Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Salem County, N.J.
"Down there, it was just a light sheen, so the impact there is probably going to be very minimal," said Coast Guard spokesman Gary Croot.
Dick Nugent, director of the Tinicum National Environmental Center near Philadelphia International Airport, said no oil-drenched waterfowl had been reported along the river. Although problems were considered unlikely at Tinicum, Nugent joined a response team keeping an eye on the spill.
"It's kind of going with the flow," said Nugent, describing how remnants of the spill washed up and down the river with the tides. In general, said Croot, tides carry water five miles upriver and seven miles down, but winds may affect the flow of the surface water.
The Coast Guard planned to send out shore patrols today along the river to see how much oil may have washed up along the shore and to check for contaminated waterfowl. Croot said yesterday's winds and currents appeared to make the Delaware side of the river more vulnerable than New Jersey's.
Meanwhile, ship traffic on the Delaware was required to pass through a ''safety zone" at the junction with the Christina, and to obtain specific approval from the Coast Guard before continuing up or down the Delaware.
An undetermined amount of the volatile chemicals toluene and xylene flowed in the 10,000-gallon spill from pipes broken when a pier collapsed after it was smacked by a barge. The Coast Guard said the chemicals, which are highly flammable and can be toxic in high concentrations, largely evaporated during the day.
The oils were diesel fuel and Nos. 2 and 6 oils - lighter substances that
break up more readily in the river than crude oil or bunker oil, the Coast Guard said.
The river cleanup was being conducted by a Delaware company, Guardian Construction Co.