Update: Rainstorm May Impact Oil Spill Clean-up Efforts

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Efforts to clean up oil blobs and tar balls from the beaches now stretch into two states.


Since the spill was detected nine days ago along Delaware Bay, oily debris has washed up on beaches as far south as Ocean City. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources say about 65 tons of polluted sand and oily debris have been removed. South Bethany beach was cleaned up yesterday ahead of a US Army Corps of Engineers project to pump more sand onto the beach.

“We’re not sure how long oily debris will continue to wash up with the tide,” DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin said as he visited the scene Wednesday. “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.”

The Coast Guard continues to look for the source of the oil spill. Samples are being analyzed by its laboratory to search for a petroleum fingerprint that could determine where it came from.

At this point in the response, we’re critically examining our resources, looking at the big picture and seeing where the greatest needs lie,” Lt. Cmdr. Fredrick Pugh, federal incident commander for the response said. “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.”

Rainfall associated with Tropical Storm Zeta is expected to move in. If conditions deteriorate, the clean-up may need to be suspended.

Anyone who sees evidence of the oil spill is asked to contact the Department of Natural Resources (800-662-8802) or Maryland Department of Environment (866-633-4686).