Press Release

AQUASCO, MD (April 22, 2000) -- Cleanup crews are taking advantage of high water levels to accelerate cleanup in the Swanson Creek Marsh area, location of the pipeline crack. Friday’s storms and high tides contributed to higher than usual water levels, which are assisting the cleanup crew’s accessability to oil covered debris.

Oil covered sticks, grasses and other debris have settled on the bottom of the marsh. The water levels dramatically increased the amount of debris floating to the surface. An increase in oil sheening is also present. This marsh is boomed to contain oil and debris, so crews are able to aggressively remove this material without it moving and impacting other areas. Crews were prepared for high winds and rain, and no areas were adversely effected by inclimate weather.

While the oil collection systems, flushing and booms have been effective cleanup methods, the Unified Command recognizes that mechanical cleanup procedures in sensitive environmental areas are approaching their maximum effectiveness. Therefore, a bioremediation plan has been selected to replace mechanical procedures and effectively clean these areas. Bioremediation uses naturally occurring microbes to breakdown the chemical substances found in the oil.

The presence of bacteria scum mixed with the oil sheens suggest that the natural process of bioremediation is already taking place. The environmental unit of the spill response (scientists from the US Environmental Protection Agency, Maryland Department of Environment, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Fish and Wildlife, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and PEPCO and their contractors) plan to accelerate the natural process by adding required nutrients. This process is called biostimulation.

Initially, the biostimulation process will include six acres of the Swanson Creek Marsh severely impacted by the spill. The Unified Command will consider the process for other marsh areas where mechanical removal is no longer effective or otherwise not available.

Statements Below are Advisories

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 Natural Resources police officer at (888) 584-3110.

All advisories relating to fish, crabs, oyster and clam beds, and beaches and shorelines are still in effect.