Press Release

AQUASCO, MD (April 18, 2000) --The Unified Command, response crews and all involved agencies worked through the night Monday and early Tuesday, suspending operations only briefly due to lightning, in their effort to clean up oil in the Patuxent River and creeks in the affected area of Southern Maryland. No free floating oil was observed in the river and creeks during this morning’s overflight, but the Unified Command said that with warmer weather expected later this week, oil that may have congealed into tar balls could surface and again leave a noticeable odor. Additional absorbent booms, containment booms and oil skimming boats will be positioned to recover any oil.

More than 700 people are recovering oil and cleaning shoreline at various sites.

PEPCO, Marine Spill Response Corporation (MSRC), Industrial Marine Services (IMS), Clean Harbors and the Coast Guard are providing manpower as well as technical expertise. Other experts working to return the water and affected shoreline areas to clean, safe and useable standards include NOAA, the Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Teams (SCAT), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maryland Department of Environment and Department of Natural Resources.

Booming activities continue along the river and creeks.

While the Unified Command morning overflight continued to report no visible, recognizable oil floating in the Patuxent, some sheening was observed in a few areas. More than 24,000 gallons of oil had been recovered as of 8 a.m. today. Additionally, an undetermined amount of oil was in 975,000 pounds of absorbent material—booms, blankets, netting and protective clothing—have been trucked off site for disposal. Over 6,000 feet of oiled absorbent boom alone have been retrieved from the water.

57,650 feet of boom have been deployed throughout the area.

Creeks are boomed and closed to minimize contamination. Oil recovery operations intensified in Swanson Creek and marsh where oil originally leaked from a broken pipeline. Clean-up operations also focused in creeks on the West bank of the Patuxent and include, Indian, Trent Hall, Persimmon, Cremona, Cat, Roslin and Cole. On the east bank, cleanup continues at God’s Grace Point, Hallowing Point and Caney Creek.

Boaters are prohibited from jumping boom. Violators are subject to a $25,000 fine.

Boating traffic is restricted in safety zones. St. Leonard’s Creek and Cat Creek are open for traffic.

Statements Below are Advisories

The Maryland Department of the Environment has stated that in the area of the Patuxent River and tributaries where the presence of petroleum products has been observed, fish and crabs should not be harvested commercially or recreationally. These areas may be identified by a surface sheen, oil on the beach or the smell or taste of petroleum.

At this time, residents should not use beaches and shorelines impacted by the spill for recreational purposes. Pets and livestock should not be allowed access to areas contaminated by the spill. If contact should occur, oil can be removed with mild detergent.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has established a rehabilitation center for fish and animals affected by the oil. As of Monday night:

  • 52 birds reported dead.
  • 94 birds reported in rehab.
  • 44 mammals reported dead.
  • 1 mammal reported in rehab.
  • 10 reptiles in rehab.
  • 4 reptiles dead
  • Residents are asked to contact the Fish and Wildlife Service at 301-579-6098 to report dead and/or distressed birds and animals. Do not handle birds and animals.