Cleanup continues on Long Island mystery spill

NEW YORK- Crews suspended their efforts at 5 p.m. to clean up what remains of an estimated 500-gallon mystery crude oil spill that was found washed ashore on a two and-a-half mile section of Long Beach and Atlantic Beach on the southern coast of Long Island, N.Y., Thursday morning.

Approximately 20 cubic yards worth of the sand and oil mixture, equal to about 75 percent of the recoverable product, had been removed from the beach. Clean up crews are scheduled to continue Saturday morning.

“We’ve made some great progress during today, and we’ll be back at first light to ensure the beach has been completely cleaned of the oil particles,” said Coast Guard Lt. William Grossman, Supervisor of the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Detachment in Coram, N.Y., and the Incident Commander for this oil spill.

The Coast Guard continues to collect oil samples from merchant vessels that transited through the impacted area up to 48 hours before surfers reported the tar-ball like oil 11 a.m., Thursday. The oil collected from these ships will be tested against samples collected from the beach.

The Coast Guard is employing technology and science to identify the oil’s source.

Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound, based in New Haven, Conn., immediately requested assistance from Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) New York to identity all merchant vessels that transited the area. Self-propelled vessels over 65-feet long are required by law to have an Automatic Identification System (AIS) installed on their vessel.

“The AIS will assist us in determining which vessels to take oil samples from, and hopefully determine the source of the pollution,” said Grossman.

Investigators from both Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound and New York, based in Staten Island, N.Y., have identified nine vessels and are collecting samples from seven that remain stateside as well as two other vessels that are enroute to overseas ports. Officials can collect those samples if the seven stateside vessels prove to not be the source vessel.

Beach and vessel samples will be analyzed by technicians at the Coast Guard Marine Safety Lab in Groton, Conn.

All other oil product recovered from the beaches will be taken to Covanta Inc., a waste-to-energy facility in Huntington, N.Y., and Properly disposed.

The Incident Command includes representatives from the Coast Guard, New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Miller Environmental Group, Village of Atlantic Beach, City of Long Beach, Town of Hempstead Bay Constables and Police Departments from Nassau County and Atlantic Beach.

The Coast Guard and the NY DEC encourage local residents who find oil remnants on the beach to call the 24-hour DEC spill response hotline at 800-457-7362, or the DEC Region One Spill Response Office at (631) 444-0323.

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