Press Release

AQUASCO, MD (May 1, 2000) - - The Environmental Unit of the Unified Command continued testing throughout the affected areas over the weekend to determine whether oil has settled on the bottom of the Patuxent River and its tributaries. These samplings confirm initial observations that no oil was found on the river or creek bottoms. The weekend testing included sixty-four observations made in nine areas at depths from near the shoreline to around fifteen feet. No oil was observed on samples from muddy bottoms or in deeper waters. However, some oil was observed in association with the intertidal zones of shorelines.

In addition, surveys of shellfish, crabs and fish were conducted. The shellfish survey, conducted in cooperation with a local waterman operating a clamming rig, included 25 locations from north of Broomes Island on the eastern shore of the river to Ramsey Creek, approximately thirteen miles. The crab survey was conducted by commercial watermen at ten locations between Broomes Island and Eagle Harbor, including the mouth of Swanson Creek. Pepco and the Maryland Department of the Environment also collected a variety of fish species, including some bottom-dwelling fish by trawl. No indication of oil or petroleum odor was noted on any of the shellfish, crabs, fish or sediment samples collected. (See map of sampling locations.)

More than 550 people – government agencies, Pepco workers and contractors - continue working on the cleanup. Plans for today’s operations include:

  • Continuing the use of approved environmental cleanup methods;
  • Loading, transporting and cleaning boom;
  • Adjusting manpower to areas where most effective;
  • Removing debris from shoreline; and
  • Maintaining 21,000 feet of boom on the waterways.
  • To date, more than 35,000 gallons of oil have been recovered from the affected waterway.

A community meeting will be held this evening, Monday, May 1st in Charles County with the Office of Representative Steny Hoyer and officials from the Maryland Department of the Environment, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Maryland Department of Agriculture and Pepco. The meeting will take place at the Benedict Volunteer Fire Department at 7:00 p.m.

Statements Below are Advisories

All advisories relating to harvesting, fishing and eating of crabs, shellfish and fish have been lifted.

The entire Patuxent River is open to vessel traffic. However, there are creeks that remain boomed off. A Marine Information Broadcast (MIB) is in effect. An MIB is a U.S. Coast Guard-issued radio broadcast that announces the transit conditions of the river. Commercial and recreational craft are not to cross boomed areas. In addition, vessels are asked to keep the wake down where booms or cleanup crews are present. Inquiries from commercial vessels requiring transit into boomed areas can be directed to Coast Guard Activities Baltimore Port Safety and Security at (410) 576-2693. Recreational users should contact the on-scene Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police officer at (888) 584-3110.