Press Release

ANNAPOLIS, MD (August 2, 2004) – Home heating oil that contaminated 170 properties along the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in the wake of Tropical Storm Isabel has been cleaned up under a unique statefederal partnership, Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. announced today.

The $2.25 million project removed 600 tons of oil-contaminated soil in eight counties. The oil, spilled when the storm surge from Isabel toppled heating oil tanks, had the potential to contaminate groundwater and pose health risks to residents who rely on well water for drinking.

“The partnership between Maryland and federal emergency officials is a model for cooperation between the states and Washington,” Governor Ehrlich said. “By working together and combining our resources, we are helping these Maryland families rebuild their homes, properties, and lives.”

Removal of the contaminated soil and replacement with clean soil was done at no cost to homeowners. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) paid 75 percent of the cost; Maryland’s share of the cost was $562,500. The cleanup was coordinated by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and carried out by the Department of General Services (DGS). The Department of Planning had overall responsibility for Maryland’s response to Isabel.

“The cooperation of FEMA, State and local governments, the consultants and contractors and our citizens was absolutely essential in addressing this threat to public health and our environment,” said Maryland Department of Planning Secretary Audrey E. Scott, who has coordinated the State's response to Hurricane Isabel. “Because of that cooperation, this clean up was a tremendous achievement. We also applaud MDE and DGS for working hand-in-hand to make this project such a huge success."

Isabel's high winds and storm surge dislodged hundreds of home heating oil tanks, spilling thousands of gallons of oil and leaving thousands of additional gallons inside the dislodged tanks. MDE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pumped more than 50,000 gallons of fuel oil from tanks.

Geotechnical-engineering consultants assessed over 400 properties in 12 counties. At the 170 sites where oil contamination was found, DGS contractors removed the contaminated soil and replaced it with clean fill dirt and topsoil. The properties were reseeded. The contaminated soil was hauled to appropriate sites for safe and proper disposal.

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