Unified Command, Incident Command Post Established for Oil Cleanup Efforts on Delaware Shore

A unified command consisting of the United States Coast Guard and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has been established today as cleanup efforts continue on oil patties that washed ashore at various locations on the Delaware Bay coastline between Fowler Beach and Cape Henlopen, Delaware.

Crew members from Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Lewes, DNREC, Lewis Environmental, a remediation contractor, and Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research are currently on scene conducting cleanup operations, responding to and investigating reports of wildlife impacted by oil, and assessing the oil spill’s shoreline and waterway impact. Currently, there are more than 75 contractors, DNREC responders and Coast Guard personnel responding to the incident.

The public is advised that due to cleanup operations, the 4-wheel drive surf fishing crossing at Delaware Beach Plum Island Preserve is closed.

An incident command post has been set up at the Slaughter Beach Volunteer Fire Department in Slaughter Beach.

Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research is assisting and to date has responded to reports of 24 oiled seagulls that have been spotted.

Approximately two tons of oily sand and debris was removed from the affected areas as of 7 p.m., Tuesday.

“We are focused on cleanup operations and getting the oil off our beaches and out of our coastal communities as quickly as possible,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin, who was on scene today surveying affected areas. “Expediency is key. We want to capture as much of the oil as we can before it disperses further and causes more environmental harm. We’re thankful for the dedicated staff from our different divisions who rushed into the breach to assist DNREC’s Emergency Response and Strategic Services Section with their cleanup mission. To accomplish it, we have put additional resources into the collaboration with our federal partners the U.S. Coast Guard.”

The formation of a unified command brings together partner agencies and response organizations to effectively conduct response efforts in an efficient and expeditious manner,” said Lt. Cmdr. Fred Pugh, Coast Guard Incident Commander. “We currently working to attempt to identify the source of the oil, and we are continuing to work together to adapt and respond to the dynamic nature of this spill.”

The public is strongly advised to not handle any product found or attempt to assist affected wildlife along the shore and to report findings to DNREC’s environmental hotline at 1-800-662-8802.

 

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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DNREC Continues Working to Assess and Clean Up Oil Spill in Delaware Bay and Southern Beaches

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control continues working today to assess and clean up an oil spill that came ashore yesterday at Broadkill Beach and has now affected several more southerly coastal locations, including Beach Plum Island near Cape Henlopen, the Roosevelt Inlet and Lewes.

Some of the oil had been carried out into the Delaware Bay by last night’s high tide night and had dispersed elsewhere on the coast by noon today. DNREC and the U.S. Coast Guard were deploying environmental contractors in the Broadkill area this morning to clean up as much oil as possible before another tide carried more oil out into the bay. Cleanup operations were proceeding under the unified command between DNREC and the U.S. Coast Guard. More cleanup workers from Coast Guard contractors as well as mobilized DNREC staff were expected on the coast throughout the day.

Monday evening’s DNREC estimate of five barrels spilled may grow, but there is no further estimate on the spill’s size at this time, and the source for the oil has not been determined. The cleanup is expected to take multiple days, as globs and pools of oil must be removed from beaches manually.

DNREC Emergency Response has no reported or sighted impacts to wildlife, and also noted the vast numbers of shorebirds and horseshoe crabs that flock to the Bay coast each summer had departed on their annual migration elsewhere. DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin asked that the public continue to report any oil sighted on- or offshore by calling the DNREC toll-free environmental hotline at 800-662-8802.

While the source of the oil spill was still unknown, DNREC provided samples of the oil today to the U.S. Coast Guard to be analyzed for a “petroleum fingerprint” that might determine where it came from. The oil was described by DNREC Emergency Response as a “heavy fuel oil” likely leaking from an operating vessel, not crude oil from the hold of a tanker.

The spill, which spanned three-quarters of a mile of upper Delaware Bay coastline last evening, was estimated this morning to have spread to up to 7 miles of beach this morning, with DNREC noting that tide had fragmented the oil from larger pooling to smaller-size speckling on the beaches. DNREC’s Emergency Response Team environmental staff gauged the size of the spill Monday after collaborating with Delaware State Police’s Aviation Unit on a reconnaissance flight over the upper Bay.

DNREC will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.

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

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DNREC Emergency Response Working to Control Oil Spill That Washed Ashore at Broadkill Beach

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control responded this afternoon to reports of an oil spill estimated at five barrels or about 215 gallons of oil from an unknown source that washed ashore at Broadkill Beach. DNREC’s Emergency Response Team was working into the evening to survey impacts and plan a cleanup of the spill.

The spill spanned three-quarters of a mile of upper Delaware Bay coastline, depositing much of the oil that came ashore in the sand at Broadkill. DNREC’s Emergency Response environmental staff gauged the size of the spill after collaborating with Delaware State Police’s Aviation Unit on a reconnaissance flight over the upper Bay. DNREC will provide samples of the oil to the U.S. Coast Guard Tuesday to be analyzed for a “petroleum fingerprint” that might determine its source, and will work with the Coast Guard’s environmental contractor to clean up the spill.

DNREC also cautioned that, with an outgoing tide this evening, the oil is likely to migrate elsewhere along the Delaware coast tomorrow, and asked that residents of coastal communities contact DNREC’s environmental hotline (800-662-8802) to report any oil spotted either on- or offshore. DNREC Emergency Response surveyed other bay beaches this afternoon after the Broadkill spill was reported, but found no evidence that oil had come ashore elsewhere on Delaware Bay. DNREC will provide updates Tuesday morning.

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 Contact: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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DNREC Mirror Lake clean-up earns more national acclaim; innovative approach reduces pollutants in the Christina River

DOVER, Del. – For Earth Day 2020, DNREC announced it has successfully used an innovative approach to reduce polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in two Delaware waterways. Newly released scientific data are validating the new method of sequestering pollutants with activated carbon, which render them unavailable for uptake by fish and other aquatic organisms.

The first success was with an activated carbon product called SediMite™ at Mirror Lake in Dover in 2013. The project is featured in a new article co-authored by several project participants, including two DNREC scientists, and published in the May issue of Journal of Environmental Engineering. The article, titled “Full-Scale Application of Activated Carbon to Reduce Pollutant Bioavailability in a 5-Acre Lake” presents a summary of the monitoring data collected at the site between 2013 and 2018. Highlights include an approximate 80% reduction in PCB concentrations in sediment porewater, which is the water trapped between grains of sediment in the bottom of a water body. The study also found an approximate 70% reduction in PCB concentrations in Mirror Lake’s resident fish.

“The recognition by the Journal of Environmental Engineering reflects how Delaware is on the leading edge of environmental technology, an area that DNREC is exploring more and more” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “Mirror Lake was a successful pilot, so DNREC’s team sought a second opportunity to try the technology.”

The A Street Ditch project became a focus for DNREC’s Watershed Approach to Toxics Assessment and Restoration (WATAR) Team after samples confirmed that drainage ditch sediments were a continuing source of PCBs to the Christina River. The project, in coordination with cleanup efforts at the adjacent South Wilmington Wetland Park site, provided an opportunity to evaluate an enhanced carbon sequestration technology developed by DNREC’s partners at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC).

The enhanced technology involves the use of SediMite™ with the addition of PCB-destroying micro-organisms (inoculant). In theory, the activated carbon will sequester PCBs, as shown in Mirror Lake. However, the micro-organisms (which exist naturally in the environment in much smaller numbers) will effectively degrade the PCB molecules over time. Initial results, collected only 5 months after the inoculated Sedimite™ was applied to the ditch sediments, show that total PCB concentrations in the top layer of sediments across the A Street Ditch study area dropped by an average of 25%. In addition, surface water PCB concentrations across the site area have dropped by an average of 35%. Most impressive is concentrations of total PCBs in sediment porewater have dropped by an average of 64%. Additional monitoring will occur in July 2020, and again in July 2022.

Another harbinger for clean water in Delaware is that sequestering or destroying legacy PCBs – the primary risk driver for most of the fish consumption advisories issued by DNREC and the Delaware Division of Public Health – prevents these contaminants from entering the food chain. With increasing confidence in these innovative sediment remediation technologies, DNREC is beginning to plan for larger-scale projects, in key watersheds across Delaware, with similar water quality impairments.

“What these projects have achieved brings the longstanding goal of clean water for all Delawareans a little closer,” said Secretary Garvin. “DNREC’s dedicated scientists and staff are committed to improving water quality and making smarter use of resources at our disposal, including the technology that has driven both the Mirror Lake and A Street Ditch projects.”

DNREC’s A Street Ditch pilot project was supported by $188,000 in Hazardous Substance Cleanup Act (HSCA) funds and a $30,000 US Environmental Protection Agency multi-purpose grant. For more information, view the DNREC YouTube video about the WATAR team’s A Street Ditch pilot and another video on the Mirror Lake project or visit the DNREC website.

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 Contact: Micahael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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DuPont Nature Center to reopen April 1

Volunteers sought for spring cleanup day March 14

DOVER, Del. – The DuPont Nature Center at Mispillion Harbor Reserve, a DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife facility located in the heart of Delaware’s Bayshore Region and a popular family and school tour destination, will reopen for the 2020 season Wednesday, April 1. The center will be open in April from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays only. The center’s 2020 schedule through September can be found on the Division of Fish & Wildlife website.

Prior to reopening, the DuPont Nature Center will hold a volunteer spring cleanup day from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, March 14. Projects include exhibit and tank set-up, planting beach grass, cleaning the center, and trash removal from surrounding grounds. Volunteers under age 18 must have a completed parental consent form, and volunteers under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. For more information or to sign up to volunteer, contact Lynne Pusey at lynne.pusey@delaware.gov or 302-422-1329.

Located on the edge of Mispillion Harbor at the intersection of the mouths of the Mispillion River and Cedar Creek, the DuPont Nature Center at Mispillion Harbor Reserve offers a variety of interactive exhibits and educational programs. In the spring, the center’s large deck overlooking the harbor offers wildlife watchers an unparalleled view of the spectacle of spawning horseshoe crabs and migrating shorebirds, including federally-listed threatened red knots that depend on horseshoe crab eggs to help fuel their 9,000-mile journey. Indoor saltwater tanks allow a close-up look at a variety of aquatic species, from horseshoe crabs to diamondback terrapins.

The DuPont Nature Center is located at 2992 Lighthouse Road, near Slaughter Beach, east of Milford. Admission to the center is free and open to the public. For general information about the center, please call 302-422-1329 or visit the DuPont Nature Center webpage. For inquiries about the center’s programs and operations, please contact Lynne Pusey at lynne.pusey@delaware.gov or 302-422-1329.

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. The Division of Fish and Wildlife conserves and manages Delaware’s fish and wildlife and their habitats, and provides fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating access on nearly 65,000 acres of public land. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media contact: Joanna Wilson, Joanna.wilson@delaware.gov

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