Some Southern Delaware, Maryland Beaches Cleared of Oily Debris, Tar Balls

Remaining Cleanup Operation Focuses on Delaware Bay and Delaware North Atlantic Ocean Beaches

Cleanup crews for the unified command have cleared oily debris and tar balls from a significant stretch of coastline from the southern side of the Indian River Inlet in Delaware to the Assateague Island State Park in Maryland. Beaches cleared include Bethany, South Bethany, Fenwick Island, Ocean City, the Assateague Island State Park, and part of Cape Henlopen State Park along the Atlantic Ocean.

The unified command under the U.S. Coast Guard, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Maryland Department of the Environment has stood down its on-site incident command post at the Slaughter Beach Memorial Volunteer Fire Company on Wednesday, after about two weeks of operations, and shifted to a remotely coordinated response.

The cleanup operations will go on, and also shift resources to more affected areas, as crews continue their process of validating beaches to be clear of oiled material and tar balls.

With Maryland beaches no longer affected, the MDE will step back from the unified command. The Coast Guard, MDE, and DNREC will continue to monitor cleared beaches and continue daily evaluations of areas previously impacted but cleared. Clean up crews may be dispatched to conduct remedial spot checks of areas as necessary.

“Our team came together to address an urgent threat to the environment, and though that threat isn’t over, we believe we have structures, procedures and relationships established to shift our cooperative efforts to manage clean up remotely,” said Lt. Cmdr. Frederick Pugh, U.S. Coast Guard Incident Commander. “We will continue to watch areas that have been impacted and will shift resources as necessary.”

After an oil spill, winds and waves tear the oil into smaller pieces that can be scattered many miles along the coastline. It mixes with water and is changed, known as “weathering,” and also mixes with sand and other marine debris. About 75 tons of oily debris has been removed by cleanup crews during this response.

“We got tons of oily debris and weathered oil off our beaches, but we’re not done yet,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “Our experts continue to survey our coastline, assessing the cleanup operation, and as we move ahead, conducting final evaluations of our beaches to make sure the job is done.”

The cause of the oil spill remains under active investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard. If a source is identified, the responsible party would be required to reimburse the federal government for the cleanup operation.

As cleanup ends on individual beaches over the next several days, the public may still see small spots of oil or isolated bits of debris. The beach in Lewes remains temporarily closed, and beachgoers to other affected areas are strongly advised to stay out of the water and avoid walking along the wrack or high tide line.

The public is asked to continue reporting sizeable sightings of oiled debris, tar balls or oiled wildlife.

For reports concerning the Delaware coastline, call DNREC’s toll-free environmental hotline at 800-662-8802. For reports concerning the Maryland coastline, call the Maryland Department of the Environment at 866-633-4686.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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Unified Command for Delaware Coastal Oil Spill Assesses Cleanup Effort and Smaller Remaining Tar Balls on Beaches

The Unified Command for the Delaware Bay and Atlantic coastal beaches oil response today began the process of evaluating cleanup operations across sections of Delaware and Maryland coastline impacted by tar balls and oiled debris to determine how much of the beach cleanup has been completed.

The evaluation process requires an assessment using stringent federal and state guidelines to determine whether cleanup crews have been successful in their efforts or whether more work is required.

“We have good reason to believe from our on-scene monitoring that the clearance of oil and cleanup efforts of oily debris from the beaches are largely complete. I would like to emphasize that people may continue to see small bits of oil or oily debris coming ashore here and there,” said Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn Garvin. “The Unified Command of DNREC and the U.S. Coast Guard is following the outgoing high tide today to get an accurate accounting on a decision to sign off the cleanup or continue it at respective locations.”

“This last step of the process requires a great deal of coordination and communication from all agencies serving in the Unified Command,” said USCG Lt. Cmdr. Fredrick Pugh, federal incident commander for the response. “At the end of the day, every person associated with this response effort is striving for the best possible outcome for affected areas and their residents. With that in common, we will make intelligent determinations, zone by zone, that prioritize human safety, protection of wildlife and preservation of the environment.”

Cleanup crews will continue to respond to beaches that have been cleared should more impacts be spotted during shoreline assessments. As beaches are cleared, crews are positioned to shift resources to areas that may need further attention.

To date, Delaware cleanup crews have collected and disposed of more than 75 tons of oiled debris and tar balls and the cleanup effort was continuing today from points north to Cape Henlopen to the Atlantic beaches to Fenwick Island.

The cause of the oil spill remains unknown, but remains under active investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard. If a source is identified, the responsible party would be required to reimburse the federal government for the cleanup operation.

As cleanup ends on individual beaches over the next several days, the public may still see small spots of oil or isolated bits of debris. Any large portions of oil or oily debris on the sand or in the water should be reported.

The public is asked to continue reporting sizeable sightings of oiled debris, tar balls or oiled wildlife. For reports concerning the Delaware coastline, call DNREC’s toll-free environmental hotline at 800-662-8802. For reports concerning the Maryland coastline, call the Maryland Department of the Environment at 866-633-4686.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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Cleanup Operation Extends from Upper Delaware Bay to Ocean City, Md.

Officials Warn Beachgoers to Avoid Oily Debris

The Maryland Department of the Environment has joined the U.S. Coast Guard and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control in a joint response, Wednesday, overseeing the cleanup operation of weathered oil called tar balls and oiled debris scattered along the shoreline from Bowers Beach, Delaware to Ocean City, Maryland.

As crews under the unified command continue to pick up the coin- to pancake-sized tar balls, beachgoers are strongly advised to stay out of the water and avoid walking along the wrack line, where oily debris is deposited by each high tide. The oily debris that has come ashore has forced the towns of Lewes, Dewey Beach and Bethany Beach to close their beaches until further notice. The 4-wheel drive surf fishing crossing at Delaware Beach Plum Island Preserve, managed by Delaware State Parks, also remains closed so cleanup operations will not be hampered by vehicles tracking oil onto the sand.

“We’re not sure how long oily debris will continue to wash up with the tide,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin, who was on scene today surveying oil on the Delaware beaches. “Unfortunately, oil can be very persistent in the marine environment, but our environmental professionals are persistent too. They’re out there, working up and down the coastline, getting it out of the sand as much as possible. I have put out a call for additional resources from within DNREC this week and the response has been outstanding – with their help and the effort from our federal partner the Coast Guard, we’re making progress on this incident.”

As of late Tuesday, cleanup crews of more than 100 personnel had successfully recovered 65 tons of oily debris and sand from Delaware beaches.

“At this point in the response, we’re critically examining our resources, looking at the big picture and seeing where the greatest needs lie,” said Lt. Cmdr Fredrick Pugh, federal incident commander for the response. “We’ll continue to assess the situation, across all impacted coastlines through our on-the-ground experts and through the diligence of our local partners in the affected municipalities.”

The unified command dispatched the cleanup crews to South Bethany yesterday, ahead of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which started a planned beach replenishment. DNREC Secretary Garvin also dispatched an advance crew of 15 DNREC personnel to comb the beach at South Bethany for tar balls and oil patties before new sand was pumped onto the beach there. DNREC established a line of communication with the Army Corps of Engineers’ replenishment contractor to ensure that any significant deposits of oil sighted on the beach can be removed before sand pumped ashore could cover it over.

Crews have surveyed the stretch of coastline by air, land and sea. This week, officials say the oily material that has been spreading along the coast is all from the original amount discovered last week that has been moved repeatedly by the waves and tide, being broken into smaller and smaller pieces. Response officials do not believe there is an ongoing or undiscovered patch of oil out in the bay or ocean.

The Coast Guard has not ruled out any possible sources. The Coast Guard has sent samples of the oil to be analyzed by its Marine Safety Laboratory for a “petroleum fingerprint” that might help determine the source of the spill. If a source is identified, the responsible party would be required to reimburse the federal government for the cleanup operation.

With Tropical Storm Zeta likely to make working conditions difficult later in the week, the unified command may suspend the cleanup operation temporarily while the storm passes through before resuming it over the weekend and continuing into next week.

The public is asked to continue reporting any findings of oil patties or oiled wildlife. For reports concerning the Delaware coastline, call DNREC’s environmental hotline at 800-662-8802. For reports concerning the Maryland coastline, call the Maryland Department of the Environment at 866-633-4686.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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U.S. Coast Guard, DNREC Recover 55 Tons of Oiled Debris

The cleanup of an oil spill from an unknown source continues Monday, one week after oil patties first washed ashore on Broadkill Beach and began migrating to other Delaware beaches on both the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Coast. About 55 tons – enough to fill four construction dumpsters – had been successfully recovered through Sunday afternoon under the unified command of the United States Coast Guard and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

“The job of removing oil from our beaches is challenging and labor-intensive, but we’re making progress,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “Our teams are getting more and more of it off our beaches every day.”

More than 100 personnel have been engaged in the cleanup operation daily over most of the last week, working where needed along the Delaware coastline. Surveys over the weekend and early Monday found small globs of oil and oily debris scattered from Bowers Beach to Fenwick Island. An additional information advisory originally issued for bay beaches last week was extended to some ocean beaches, which now includes the following areas: Slaughter Beach, Fowler Beach, Prime Hook Beach, Broadkill Beach, Lewes, Cape Henlopen State Park, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach and the Indian River Inlet.

The towns of Lewes and Dewey Beach closed their beaches temporarily due to the oil that washed up on shore, some of it settling into a gravel-like substance, known as tar balls. Signs were posted by local authorities at beach crossovers and on dune fences informing the public to avoid the oil patties and tar balls at the water’s edge, and of area closures. The 4-wheel drive surf fishing crossing at Delaware Beach Plum Island Preserve, overseen by Delaware State Parks, also remains closed so cleanup operations will not be hampered by vehicles tracking oil onto the sand.

“Our crews and technology are yielding positive results,” said USCG Lt. Cmdr. Fredrick Pugh, federal incident commander. “We’re seeing a lot of this pollutant coming off of our beaches by the ton and that feels like a high level of productivity, but we’re not letting up. These communities need their beaches back.”

The unified command received additional reports of oiled birds, but they were not encumbered by the oil. Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research of Newark remains on standby to treat any birds that may require rehabilitation.

 

While the oil spill cleanup continues, the Coast Guard and DNREC strongly advise the public not to handle any oily product found or attempt to assist affected wildlife along the shore, but to report these findings to DNREC’s environmental hotline at 800-662-8802 so the situations can be addressed by hazmat-trained professionals.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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Oil Spill Cleanup of Delaware Bay Coastline Intensifies Today With Additional Resources Deployed

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and U.S. Coast Guard continued Thursday and Friday to spearhead a cleanup operation for the oil spill that has deposited blobs of oil called tar balls and oiled debris this week over a stretch of Delaware coastline extending from the upper Delaware Bay to the tip of the Atlantic Ocean. The cleanup operation intensified this morning with additional resources deployed by state and federal agencies and non-profit organizations.

More than 125 environmental professionals from DNREC, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), the Coast Guard and its environmental contractor, and the Delaware Bay and River Cooperative are expected to be engaged Friday in removing oil found littering beaches and rafting around debris offshore. The Delaware Bay and River Cooperative, a non-profit funded by industry in the event of an oil spill, dispatched an oil skimming vessel to remove oily debris seen Thursday afloat in the Bay. Tri-State Bird Rescue of Newark continued to play a key role in the cleanup coalition, investigating reports of wildlife impacted by oil and treating captured sea gulls and other wildlife that has been oiled in the water.

“We continue to mobilize our expert resources as the tides spread oil from the beaches back into the water and back on the beach,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “We are combing the beaches and, shovel by shovel, removing the tar balls and contaminated sand.”

The crews are manually removing oil patties and tar balls are being found on various locations along the coast. Approximately 21 tons of oily sand and debris, filling 1 ½ dumpsters, was removed from the affected areas as of 7 p.m. Thursday.

“We are grateful for our interagency collaboration with DelDOT and for the help from the Delaware Bay and River Cooperative enabling us take the cleanup onto the water,” Secretary Garvin said.

The city of Lewes Thursday closed its beaches temporarily due to oil that had come ashore and posed a threat to people and pets alike who visit them. DNREC closed the 4-wheel drive surf fishing crossing at Delaware Beach Plum Island Preserve, overseen by Delaware State Parks, so cleanup operations will not be hampered by vehicles tracking oil onto the sand.

While the oil spill cleanup continues, the Coast Guard and DNREC strongly advise the public not to handle any oily product found or attempt to assist affected wildlife along the shore, but to report these findings to DNREC’s environmental hotline at 800-662-8802 so the situations can be addressed by hazmat-trained professionals.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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