Coast Guard continues oil spill cleanup in Cheboygan, Mich.

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — Pollution investigators and marine inspectors from U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., continue to respond, Oct. 7, 2010, to the scene of an oiled beach at Cheboygan State Park in Cheboygan, Mich.

Contracted cleanup crews are on scene, and affected areas of the beach remained closed to safeguard the public.

As of 1:30 p.m. today, six barrels, totaling about 80 percent of contaminated sand, have been removed from the beach. Workers have also removed 20-30 bags of oiled debris.

The original area of contaminated beach was estimated to be 25 by 300 yards. According to pollution investigators, the substance appears to be weathered/used heavy oil.

A Coast Guard Auxiliary aircrew, flying out of Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., conducted an overflight of the affected area at 9 a.m. and showed no visible sheen or signs of further discharged oil in the water. The Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay is enforcing a safety zone in Duncan Bay to protect the public.

There are two vessels in the vicinity, one anchored and one aground. The cause of the pollution is under investigation. Coast Guard pollution investigators are taking more samples today to further their investigation.

“We are pleased with the progress of the cleanup,” said Capt. Joseph McGuiness, the federal on-scene coordinator and commander of Sector Sault Ste. Marie. “The spill should not have happened in the first place.”

The cleanup is moving smoothly and swiftly due to the multi-agency cooperative effort of National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Cheboygan State Park Service, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency, said McGuinness.

The cause of the spill is under investigation.

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