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Press Release

Swanson Creek Oil Spill

Phone: (301) 579-2023 or (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)

May 3, 2000

Significant Progress Pushes Phase One Activities Toward Closure; Food Safety Experts Declare Patuxent River Seafood Safe to Eat

The Natural Resources Trustees are making final assessments of a number of areas in the affected waterways. Completion of these evaluations will help end of the first phase of the cleanup process. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Department of the Environment are the Trustees directing the natural resources restoration process. Together with the EPA, the Trustees have the authority to decide what cleanup actions are feasible and what cleanup levels are appropriate.

In Phase One, cleanup crews controlled the source of the spill. Specifically, crews stopped the flow of oil into the river and undertook cleanup activities to remove free-floating oil from environmentally sensitive areas, shorelines and creeks. Phase Two focuses on cleanup and long-term restoration, while crews clean individual private properties. This includes cleaning areas such as individual plots of grass, beach areas and boat docks. The cleanup process of Phase Two will proceed until these areas are as clean as possible.

Pepco is committed to the cleanup process and is working closely with these Federal and State agencies to clean up and assess the impact of the spill on the environment. Along with completing both cleanup phases, pursuant to an EPA order issued to Pepco on May 2nd, Pepco will:

In addition to the provisions in the EPA order, Pepco has instructed Community Relations Teams to canvass the shorelines and meet with property owners to identify specific property concerns. State and Federal food safety, environmental and public health officials have received the results of laboratory analyses of fish, crab and shellfish samples taken from the Patuxent River following the spill. Samples from the affected area and surrounding waters were analyzed for substances that might indicate exposure to petroleum. At a meeting earlier this week with Southern Maryland watermen, the officials stressed that these results show that seafood taken from the Patuxent River is as safe to eat as those taken from other areas of the Chesapeake Bay. As always, common sense and individual perception should be used to determine if fish, crabs or any other food source is safe to eat.

"The substances found were at levels similar to fish from other areas of the Chesapeake Bay which have not been affected by the oil spill. Therefore, we are confident that fish, crabs and shellfish harvested from the Patuxent River are safe to eat," said Dr. Robert Venezia, environment health director of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

STATEMENTS BELOW ARE ADVISORIES

  1. All advisories relating to harvesting, fishing and eating of crabs, shellfish and fish have been lifted.
  2. The entire Patuxent River is open to vessel traffic. However, there are creeks that remain boomed off. A Marine Information Broadcast (MIB) is in effect. An MIB is a U.S. Coast Guard-issued radio broadcast that announces the transit conditions of the river. Commercial and recreational craft are not to cross boomed areas. In addition, vessels are asked to keep the wake down where booms or cleanup crews are present. Inquiries from commercial vessels requiring transit into boomed areas can be directed to Coast Guard Activities Baltimore Port Safety and Security at (410) 576-2693. Recreational users should contact the on-scene Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police officer at (888) 584-3110.

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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