Long Island Oil Spill Cleanup Suspended

NEW YORK—The U.S. Coast Guard, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and Miller Environmental Group suspended beach clean-up efforts at 12:45 p.m. today to remove an estimated 500-gallon mystery # 6 oil spill that washed ashore on a two-and-a-half mile section along the south shore of Long Island, N.Y., Thursday, Nov. 22.

Incident Command officials removed approximately 24 cubic yards of # 6 oil and contaminated sand during 25 hours of beach cleaning spanning three days. The oil product recovered from the beaches is being taken to Covanta Inc., a waste-to-energy facility in Huntington, N.Y., to be properly disposed. Multiple aerial, surface and walking surveys along long stretches of Atlantic Beach and Long Beach report the beaches clear of any oil product. Surfers initially reported finding oil near Jones Beach at 11 a.m. Thursday.

“The work done by the Coast Guard, DEC and contractors helped clean this spill up as quickly as possible,” said Peter A. Scully, the DEC Region One Regional Director. “The response of all agencies limited the environmental impact of this spill and restored beach conditions.”

The Coast Guard and DEC will continue to monitor the condition of the beaches. Local residents who find oil remnants on the beach are encouraged to call the 24-hour DEC Oil Spill Hotline at 800-457-7362 or the DEC Region I Spill Response Office at 631-444-0323.

“A great effort was put forth by all agencies involved, which has allowed this to be a thorough and effective clean up,” said Lt. William Grossman, Supervisor of the Marine Safety Detachment in Coram, N.Y., and Incident Commander for the spill. “Now that we have removed the oil, finding the source of the spill is the next step, and will hopefully come just as quick.”

Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound located in New Haven, Conn., launched an immediate investigation to locate the responsible party. Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) New York, based in Staten Island, used merchant vessels’ Automatic Identification System (AIS) signatures to identify nine vessels that transited through the area up to 48 hours prior to the # 6 oil being located on the beach.

Coast Guard investigators from Sectors Long Island Sound, New York and Hampton Roads, Va., have been collecting oil samples from seven ships identified by VTS New York, and sending those samples to the Coast Guard Marine Safety Lab in Groton, Conn. Lab technicians will compare the ship samples to a beach sample collected by Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Coram, N.Y. The remaining two ships are en route to overseas ports. Officials will test those vessels if the seven stateside vessels are no match.

Coast Guard VTS employs AIS technology that monitors the course, speed and destination of a vessel. Self-propelled vessels 65-feet or greater in length are required by law to install AIS.

Within 30 minutes of the initial notification, Coast Guard Auxiliary and Nassau County Police Department air units were on scene and assisted in an attempt to determine the source and any additional pollution in the water. Two response boat crews from Coast Guard Station Jones Beach and Marine Safety Detachment Coram responded to determine the extent of the damage and the type of oil. A Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew conducted daily over flights, and the Coast Guard Cutter Bainbridge Island, a 110-foot patrol boat based in Sandy Hook, N.J., remained off Atlantic Beach.

The incident command was composed of nearly 100 local and federal employees from the Coast Guard, New York State DEC, Miller Environmental Group, Village of Atlantic Beach, City of Long Beach, Town of Hempstead Bay Constables, Nassau County Police Department and the Atlantic Beach Fire Department.

Miller Environmental Group initiated clean up at 3 p.m., Thursday. Clean up efforts were suspended at nightfall Thursday and Friday, and resumed the following day at 6 a.m., until finally being suspended at 12:45 p.m. today after officials expressed confidence most of the recoverable product was removed from the beaches.

“At the time we suspended cleanup efforts, the majority of the recoverable product was removed,” said Grossman. “Now that we have cleaned the beaches, the Coast Guard and NY DEC will continue to monitor the area to ensure no threat to the environment resurfaces.”

If you have any problems viewing this article, please report it here.