Mystery Oil Washes Ashore in Delaware

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 13
October 22, 2020

Oil patties can be seen washed ashore along the Delaware Bay coastline between Fowler Beach and Cape Henlopen, Delaware, Oct. 21, 2020.

A unified command has been established to respond to mysterious globs of oil that have washed ashore Delaware Bay, impacting local wildlife.

The command was established Wednesday as cleanup efforts continue on oil patties that washed ashore at various locations on the Delaware Bay coastline between Fowler Beach and Cape Henlopen, Delaware.

The oil was first reported on Monday. By Tuesday morning, an overflight confirmed oil patties ranging from the size of a quarter to as large as a manhole cover along a stretch of shore approximately 10-miles in length.

As of Tuesday evening, there were reports of 24 oiled seagulls spotted and approximately two tons of oily sand and debris was removed from the affected areas.

The source of the oil is a mystery, for now.

“We currently working to attempt to identify the source of the oil, and we are continuing to work together to adapt and respond to the dynamic nature of this spill,” said Lt. Cmdr. Fred Pugh, Coast Guard Incident Commander

The Unified Command consists of the United States Coast Guard and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).

Crew members from Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Lewes, DNREC, Lewis Environmental, a remediation contractor, and Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research are currently on scene conducting cleanup operations, responding to and investigating reports of wildlife impacted by oil, and assessing the oil spill’s shoreline and waterway impact.

Currently there are over 75 contractors, DNREC responders and Coast Guard personnel responding to the incident.

The public is advised that due to cleanup operations, the 4-wheel drive surf fishing crossing at Delaware Beach Plum Island Preserve is closed.

“We are focused on cleanup operations and getting the oil off our beaches and out of our coastal communities as quickly as possible,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin, who was on scene today surveying affected areas. “Expediency is key. We want to capture as much of the oil as we can before it disperses further and causes more environmental harm. We’re thankful for the dedicated staff from our different divisions who rushed into the breach to assist DNREC’s Emergency Response and Prevention Section with their cleanup mission. To accomplish it, we have put additional resources into the collaboration with our federal partners the U.S. Coast Guard.”

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