Unified Command For Oil Incident Along Delaware, Maryland Beaches Suspends Cleanup Operations
After sustained cleanup operations for last month’s oil spill in Delaware Bay spearheaded by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the U.S. Coast Guard under a unified command, Delaware’s beaches have all been declared substantially “cleared.”
Cleanup crews are prepared to respond to further oiling, and shoreline monitoring will still take place. The public is asked to report any sizeable sightings of oil or oily debris, or oiled wildlife to DNREC’s toll-free environmental hotline, 800-662-8802.
The month-long multi-agency response to tar patties began on October 19, 2020, after reports of oil patties impacting the Delaware Shoreline from Fowler Beach, and downward along the Delaware Bay coast to the state’s Atlantic Ocean beaches from Cape Henlopen to Fenwick Island and to the Assateague Island State Park in Maryland. As of late Friday, the only cleanup that remains is an area of Gordon’s Pond, part of Cape Henlopen State Park. It is expected this area will be clear on Monday.
“As the unified command suspends, and we pick up the final bits of oily debris, we can reflect on consolidating our environmental resources into a model of teamwork that eliminated this threat to our coastline,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “We are grateful for the commitment by our federal partner, the U.S. Coast Guard, to see it through, and for the DNREC responders — including emergency response personnel, environmental scientists and engineers — who worked to avert serious harm to our environment, particularly to our beaches. The collaborative effort under the unified command has accomplished its goals in combating this oil spill.”
Since the oil began breaking up, scattering, and spreading to various locations along the coast, about 85 tons of oily debris has been removed by cleanup crews during the spill response.
The oiled sand and debris are being disposed of in a special landfill designed for petroleum-contaminated material.
“The collaborative effort of the first responders, assessment teams, investigators and response workers who spent weeks on the shore of Delaware using technology and hand tools to remove tar balls over the past three weeks, has resulted in exceptional progress during a dynamic spill response,” said Lt. Cmdr. Fredrick Pugh, U.S. Coast Guard Incident Commander. “Our state, local and federal partners have come together to help clean the beaches of Delaware and Maryland; and while the source of the spill is still unknown and under investigation, we will continue to posture ourselves to monitor, and if need be, assign resources in the event more tar balls were to appear.”
While the origin of the spill is still unknown, it is still under active investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Marine Safety Lab in New London, Connecticut.
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.