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David Sternberg, 215-814-5548 & Carrie Deitzel, 353-3666
AQUASCO, MD - EPA today dramatically lowered the official estimate of the amount of oil that has been recovered from the 111,000-gallon Pepco oil pipeline spill on Swanson Creek. According to new figures, only 20,000 gallons of pure oil have been recovered. Earlier figures indicated that about 80,000 gallons of oil had been recovered.
The new figures are a result of analysis of samples from the 80,000 gallon oil-water mixture that had been recovered. On-scene coordinator Colby Stanton of the EPA reported that she became concerned on Wednesday night that the recovery estimates were too high.
"There was simply too much oil still visible for the reported figures to be accurate," Stanton said.
Ten miles of the Patuxent River has been affected by the spill -- 12 sites are currently being cleaned on the eastern shore, and 17 sites are being cleaned on the western shore. Although it is difficult to assess the long-term effects of the spill on the local ecology, environmental scientists are concerned about the environmental impact on wildlife.
To date, more than 450 people are working on the cleanup. Crews have put protective booms stretching across 6.5 miles of sensitive areas and blocking off the mouths of Swanson, Trent Hall, Hunting, Indian, Spring, Battle and Marsh creeks to prevent oil from flowing into them. Boats are canvassing the river to ensure that the booms stay in place. Booms have also been placed around the original spill in Swanson Marsh to prevent any further outflow of oil. Trenches have been dug in the marsh to collect any remaining oil.
The Coast Guard has established a safety zone between God’s Grace Point and Boom’s Island. No vessels are allowed in this area without Coast Guard permission. The safety zone is needed to protect cleanup workers. Helicopter flights below 1,500 feet are also banned within a one-mile radius of the marsh at Swanson Creek.
For more information on boating bans in the area, call 1-888-584-3110.