Cleanup from Delmarva oil spill is ‘largely complete’

SLAUGHTER BEACH — The cleanup of oil and debris from beaches resulting from a spill late last month is likely “largely complete,” Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn Garvin said Monday.

The unified command of DNREC and the U.S. Coast Guard was evaluating cleanup progress in parts of the Delaware and Maryland coastline affected by oil that entered the water from an unknown source, officials said. DNREC first responded on Oct. 19 when oil washed ashore at Broadkill Beach.

According to DNREC, an official assessment would determine whether cleanup efforts met “stringent” federal and state guidelines to declare the cleanup a success or that more work was needed.

While optimistic about the cleanup results, Secretary Garvin also said, “I would like to emphasize that people may continue to see small bits of oil or oily debris coming ashore here and there.

“The unified command of DNREC and the U.S. Coast Guard is following the outgoing high tide (Monday) to get an accurate accounting on a decision to sign off the cleanup or continue it at respective locations.”

More than 75 tons of oiled debris and tar balls had been collected as the cleanup effort continued Monday from points north to Cape Henlopen, to the Atlantic beaches to Fenwick Island, DNREC said.

Cleanup crews will return to beaches for more operations if needed, DNREC said.

DNREC asked the public to report any sizeable sightings of oiled debris, tar balls or oiled wildlife. For reports concerning the Delaware coastline, call DNREC’s toll-free environmental hotline at 800-662-8802. For reports concerning the Maryland coastline, call the Maryland Department of the Environment at 866-633-4686.

The USCG continued to investigate the cause and source of the spill, and any responsible party will be required to reimburse the federal government for cleanup costs.

USCG Lt. Cmdr. Frederick Pugh, who guided the federal response said, “This last step of the process requires a great deal of coordination and communication from all agencies serving in the Unified Command.

‘At the end of the day, every person associated with this response effort is striving for the best possible outcome for affected areas and their residents. With that in common, we will make intelligent determinations, zone by zone, that prioritize human safety, protection of wildlife and preservation of the environment.”