Unified Command established for oil cleanup efforts on Delaware Shore

Crewmembers from Lewis Environmental, a remediation contractor, conducts cleanup operations of oil patties that washed ashore at various locations on the Delaware Bay coastline between Fowler Beach and Cape Henlopen, Delaware, Oct. 21, 2020. A unified command consisting of the United States Coast Guard and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has been established as cleanup efforts continue. (Courtesy photo/Released)

Crewmembers from Lewis Environmental, a remediation contractor, conducts cleanup operations of oil patties that washed ashore at various locations on the Delaware Bay coastline between Fowler Beach and Cape Henlopen, Delaware, Oct. 21, 2020. (Courtesy photo)

MILFORD, Del. — A unified command consisting of the United States Coast Guard and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) was established Wednesday as cleanup efforts continue on oil patties that washed ashore at various locations on the Delaware Bay coastline between Fowler Beach and Cape Henlopen, Delaware.

Crew members from Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Lewes, DNREC, Lewis Environmental, a remediation contractor, and Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research are currently on scene conducting cleanup operations, responding to and investigating reports of wildlife impacted by oil, and assessing the oil spill’s shoreline and waterway impact.

Currently there are over 75 contractors, DNREC responders and Coast Guard personnel responding to the incident.

The public is advised that due to cleanup operations, the 4-wheel drive surf fishing crossing at Delaware Beach Plum Island Preserve is closed.

An incident command post has been set up at the Slaughter Beach Volunteer Fire Department in Slaughter Beach.

Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research is assisting and to date has responded to reports of 24 oiled seagulls that have been spotted.

Approximately two tons of oily sand and debris was removed from the affected areas as of 7 p.m., Tuesday.

“We are focused on cleanup operations and getting the oil off our beaches and out of our coastal communities as quickly as possible,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin, who was on scene today surveying affected areas. “Expediency is key. We want to capture as much of the oil as we can before it disperses further and causes more environmental harm. We’re thankful for the dedicated staff from our different divisions who rushed into the breach to assist DNREC’s Emergency Response and Prevention Section with their cleanup mission. To accomplish it, we have put additional resources into the collaboration with our federal partners the U.S. Coast Guard.”

“The formation of a unified command brings together partner agencies and response organizations to effectively conduct response efforts in an efficient and expeditious manner,” said Lt. Cmdr. Fred Pugh, Coast Guard Incident Commander. “We currently working to attempt to identify the source of the oil, and we are continuing to work together to adapt and respond to the dynamic nature of this spill.”

The public is strongly advised to not handle any product found or attempt to assist affected wildlife along the shore and to report findings to DNREC’s environmental hotline at 1-800-662-8802.

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