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Swanson Creek Oil Spill

News from the Unified Response's Joint Information Center
Joint Information Center: 1 (972) 797-2527

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE)
Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO)

APRIL 24, 2000

STATE ENVIRONMENTAL OFFICIALS SAY IT IS OKAY TO HARVEST FISH, CRABS AND SHELLFISH FROM PATUXENT RIVER

AQUASCO, MD -- The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), in cooperation with other state and local health and environmental officials, has lifted advisories it had issued earlier this month against the harvest and consumption of fish, crabs and shellfish on the Patuxent River. Based upon laboratory analyses of crab, fish and shellfish samples, MDE has determined that eating the fish, crabs and shellfish from the river would not pose a significant potential for adverse human health effects.

As a result of the Swanson Creek Oil Spill in Prince Georges's County, MDE had issued a precautionary advisory recommending against the harvest or consumption of fish and crabs from the river, and had closed the river's shellfish beds. Shellfish harvesting restrictions due to water quality (bacteria) limitations that were in place before the spill still apply. MDE cautions that there may continue to be patchy distributions of oil in sediments or in other areas of the river that could contaminate fish, crabs and shellfish. Individual fish or crabs that have a petroleum smell should be returned to the water.

A full copy of the advisory status change is below. The document, as well as a map of the affected area, can be viewed at MDE's website at www.mde.state.md.usClick here to read the "Exit EPA Website" Disclaimer

Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE)
Patuxent Oil Spill Advisories
Status Change

April 24, 2000

Fish and Crabs

AS OF APRIL 24, 2000 MDE IS LIFTING ITS EARLIER PRECAUTIONARY FISHING AND CRABBING ADVISORY FOR THE PATUXENT RIVER IN THE AREA AFFECTED BY THE OIL SPILL.

On April 14, 2000, in response to an oil spill in the Patuxent River, the Maryland Department of the Environment, in cooperation with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Department of Natural Resources and local health departments issued a precautionary advisory. This advisory was based the potential for oil to contaminate fish and crabs. The Department has subsequently received the results of laboratory analysis of fish and crab samples taken from the Patuxent River following the spill and finds that concentrations of petroleum contaminants in the fish and crab tissue do not pose a significant potential for adverse human health effects.

However, the Department cautions that there may continue to be patchy distributions of oil in sediments or some areas of the River that could contaminate fish or crabs. Individual fish or crabs that have a petroleum smell should be returned to the water and not harvested or consumed.

Shellfish

AS OF APRIL 24, 2000 MDE IS LIFTING ITS EARLIER EMERGENCY SHELLFISH CLOSURE FOR THE PATUXENT RIVER. SHELLFISH MAY BE HARVESTED COMMERCIALLY OR RECREATIONALLY IN THE PATUXENT RIVER. SHELLFISH HARVESTING RESTRICTIONS DUE TO WATER QUALITY (BACTERIA) LIMITATIONS THAT WERE IN PLACE BEFORE THE OIL SPILL WILL STILL APPLY.

On April 12, 2000, in response to an oil spill in the Patuxent River, the Maryland Department of the Environment closed the area to shellfish harvesting. This closure was based on the potential for oil to contaminate shellfish. The Department has subsequently received the results of laboratory analyses of shellfish taken from the Patuxent River following the oil spill finds that the concentrations of petroleum contaminants do not pose a significant potential for adverse human health effects.

However, the Department cautions that there may be patchy distributions of oil in sediments or some areas of the River that could externally contaminate shellfish. Individual shellfish that have a petroleum smell should be returned to the water and not harvested or consumed.

Other Advisories Remain In Effect

Beaches

On April 14, 2000, the Maryland Department of the Environment recommended that area residents use common sense in impacted areas. Residents should not use beaches and shorelines impacted by the spill for recreational purposes at this time. Pets and livestock should not be allowed access to areas contaminated by oil. If contact should occur, oil can be removed using a mild detergent. This precaution is still in effect.

Drinking Water

On April 14, 2000, MDE issued an advisory for individual drinking water supplies in the area affected by the Chalk Point oil spill. Drinking water supplies and/or public water wells have not been impacted by residual accumulations of oil from the spill. Residents in this area can confidently rely on the fact that their water wells and community supplies continue to remain safe to drink.

Future Updates

MDE will continue to assess the area impacted by the oil spill and will issue further updates as appropriate or warranted. For information on:

Contact Information

Shellfish contact 1-800-541-1210
Prince George's County: 301-883-7681
Charles County: 301-609-6751
Calvert County: 301-535-3922
St. Mary's County: 301-475-4321
Maryland Dept. of the Environment: 1-800-633-6101 X3778 or 410-631-3778
Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene: 1-888-584-3110

Numbers to Call to Report Incidents Related to the PEPCO Chalk Point Oil Spill

General Reports of Oil Damage 1-800-553-2509
Oil on Beaches or Shoreline 301-843-4480
Oil on Fish, and Fishery Related Questions 410-260-8326
Oil on Birds and Wildlife, and Wildlife Related Questions 301-855-1295/6 and 301-579-6098

Other Numbers to Call for Information

Swanson Creek Marsh Joint Information Center 301-579-2023
Department of Natural Resources Hotline 1-888-584-3110
PEPCO Fuel Oil Spill Information Hotline (including property damage claims and commercial loss, and volunteering for cleanup efforts) 1-800-685-1266
Chesapeake Wildlife Sanctuary 301-390-7010

Websites where you can find more spill-related information:

Region 3 | Mid-Atlantic Cleanup | Mid-Atlantic Superfund |EPA Home | EPA Superfund Homepage


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