Press Release

ANNAPOLIS, MD (August 10, 2000) -- Prompted by the April pipeline break at PEPCO’s Chalk Point Power Plant that sent 126,000 gallons of oil spilling into Swanson Creek Marsh and the Patuxent River, Governor Parris N. Glendening today appointed former State Senator Bernie Fowler and Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Jane Nishida as chairs of two advisory committees formed to assist with the State’s recovery from that incident and to recommend ways to improve oil transport safety and spill response in Maryland.

Fowler, of Calvert County, will serve as chair of the Patuxent River Oil Spill Citizens Advisory Committee, while Nishida will chair the Oil Spill Prevention Advisory Committee. Committee members are in the process of being appointed.

"The PEPCO Chalk Point oil spill dramatically illustrated the fragile nature of our wetlands, streams and rivers and the unique vulnerability of the Chesapeake Bay," said Governor Glendening. "We must make sure that we not only continue to make progress in recovering from the oil spill at Chalk Point, but that we also ensure that we are doing everything in our control to prevent such a disaster from happening in the future."

"The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is pleased that the Glendening Administration is providing a forum for addressing this important issue for the Bay and all Marylanders, said Theresa Pierno, Maryland executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. "We have seen that the Bay is particularly susceptible to incidents related to oil transport and storage due to its shallow depths and minimal flushing action. We have a responsibility to insure that every precaution is being taken to protect the Bay."

The Governor has directed the Oil Spill Prevention Advisory Committee to evaluate the adequacy and effectiveness of the programs, standards and resources devoted to oil spill prevention and response for protecting the Chesapeake Bay and the State’s other natural resources. The panel will include representatives of government, the oil transport and utility industries, emergency response and environmental organizations, the scientific community and the general public.

The committee will review and analyze the adequacy of State and federal policy, laws and regulations pertaining to oil transport and spill response. It also will assess the adequacy of oil spill emergency response plans and private contractor support for prevention and response to oil spills. The committee is to recommend to the Governor by December 31, 2000, options for addressing any issues, concerns or problems that surface during the review process.

"It is important that we review all policies and procedures to ensure that incidents like these cannot possibly happen again," said Secretary Nishida. "I don’t pretend that we have an easy task ahead of us, but it is imperative that oil transport and emergency response plans are effective in protecting our vital resources."

The Patuxent River Oil Spill Citizens Advisory Committee is charged with assisting the State in its efforts to achieve a successful cleanup, restoration and mitigation of the areas affected by the spill, and submitting a final report to the Governor by June 30, 2002. The committee will be comprised of members representing government, environmental, business, scientific and community organizations, watermen, recreational fishermen, boaters and the general public.

"I am honored to have been selected to chair this committee," said former Senator Fowler.

"I have had a long-standing affection for the Patuxent River, and the formation of this committee coincides with my hopes that a group would come together to look at the situation and evaluate the long-term damage that may have been caused. We have real challenges ahead."

The Maryland Departments of Environment and Natural Resources will staff the citizens advisory committee, while the oil spill prevention committee will be supported by staff from the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Public Service Commission.