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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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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