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Oil spill clean-up continues along Delaware coast

Milton Pratt
Delaware Public Media

Officials with Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) say cleanup of an oil spill off of Broadkill Beach will likely take several days.


DNREC officials say the state was notified of the spill Monday evening by a call to its environmental hotline.

The oil was initially observed washing ashore at Broadkill Beach. But after going out with the tide, the spill is estimated to have spread to up to 7 miles of beach as of Thursday morning, affecting locations like Beach Plum Island, the Roosevelt Inlet and Lewes.


DNREC spokeswoman Nikki Lavoie says DNREC is partnering with the U.S Coast Guard and others to clean up.

“It’s a very labor-intensive process. It involves, at times, shovels. And it will likely take multiple days as some of the oil is in globs and pools dispersed in different areas," said Lavoie.

The state made an early estimate of five barrels of oil spilled, but Lavoie says there is no estimate as of Thursday afternoon.

She says the source of the spill is also unknown, though a sample was given to the U.S. Coast Guard, and is believed to be “heavy fuel oil” likely leaking from an operating vessel. Lavoie adds the Coast Guard will analyze the sample for a “petroleum fingerprint” that might determine where it came from, but would not comment further on whether it is likely they will find out the source of the spill.

Lavoie also three have been no reported or sighted impacts to area wildlife, noting many shorebirds and horseshoe crabs have migrated since the summer.