55 tons of oily debris collected from Delaware beaches

Workers help clean Delaware beach after oil spill

More than 100 workers are busy cleaning 11 miles of Delaware beaches after an oil spill of unknown origin washed ashore last week. (DNREC)

One week after the first blobs of oil were found on Broadkill Beach on the Delaware Bay, the effort to clean an 11-mile stretch of Delaware’s coastline continues. So far, that effort has collected about 55 tons of oily debris from Fowler Beach north of Broadkill, down to Fenwick Island at the southern Delaware border.

“The job of removing oil from our beaches is challenging and labor-intensive, but we’re making progress,” said Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary Shawn Garvin. “Our teams are getting more and more of it off our beaches every day.”

Workers help clean Delaware beach after oil spill
So far, workers have collected about 55 tons of oily debris from Fowler Beach. (DNREC)

The state is working with the U.S. Coast Guard in both the cleanup and the effort to identify the source of the oil, which has not yet been found.

“Our crews and technology are yielding positive results,” said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Fredrick Pugh, federal incident commander. “We’re seeing a lot of this pollutant coming off of our beaches by the ton, and that feels like a high level of productivity, but we’re not letting up. These communities need their beaches back.”

Leaders in Lewes and Dewey Beach temporarily closed access to the beach where some oil has settled into a gravel-like substance referred to as tarballs. The surf fishing crossing for 4-wheel drive vehicles at the Delaware Beach Plum Island Preserve was closed by Delaware State Parks. That was done to prevent vehicles from tracking oil into the sand.

State officials issued an advisory to Delaware beach visitors, warning them to stay away from the oil. That advisory covers beaches including Slaughter Beach, Fowler Beach, Prime Hook Beach, Broadkill Beach, Lewes, Cape Henlopen State Park, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach and the Indian River Inlet.

Oil spill on Delaware beach
Delaware beach visitors are urged to stay away from the oil. (U.S. Coast Guard)

The Coast Guard and DNREC strongly advise the public not to touch any oily substances found on the beach. No one should try to help any wildlife that might be affected along the shore. You can report oily debris or animals in distress to DNREC’s environmental hotline at 800-662-8802 so the situations can be addressed by hazmat-trained professionals.

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