Cleanup operations suspended for oil incident along Delaware, Maryland beaches

Contracted oil spill response workers gather and remove oily debris from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware as part of the Broadkill Beach 2020 oil spill response. The Coast Guard and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control are working together to identify areas where tar balls and oily debris are making landfall to facilitate an effective clean up. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Stephen Lehmann.

Contracted oil spill response workers gather and remove oily debris from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware as part of the Broadkill Beach 2020 oil spill response.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Stephen Lehmann.

PHILADELPHIA – The Unified Command comprised of the U.S. Coast Guard and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control suspended operations along the shores of Delaware after cleaning the remaining beaches impacted by tar balls, Friday.

Cleanup crews are prepared to respond to any 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 oil 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.

Over the course of three weeks, cleanup crews removed 85 tons of oily sand and debris.

“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.”

“In successfully concluding the oil spill cleanup, we can reflect on consolidating our environmental resources into a model of teamwork that eliminated this threat to our coastline,” Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn Garvin said. “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.”

While the origin of the spill is still unknown, it is still under active investigation by the Coast Guard Marine Safety Laboratory in New London, Connecticut.

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