A contractor hired by the U.S. Coast Guard finished cleaning up a 200-gallon fuel oil spill in Spa Creek Monday night. Now the federal agency is trying to find out where the fuel came from.
Using a sample of the red-tinted fuel that was discovered in the waters near Acton’s Cove waterfront park on Sunday evening, investigators are looking for vessels carrying similar No. 2 fuels to determine who was responsible for the spill, the police said. Coast Guard spokeswoman Cynthia Oldham.
The Annapolis Fire Department reported the fuel leak to the Maryland Department of Environment and Coast Guard around 5 p.m. Sunday.
Agencies confined the fuel to Acton Cove and estimated a total of 200 gallons spilled into the water. Neither was able to identify the source of the leak, leading the Coast Guard to use a federal oil spill trust fund to hire a contractor for the cleanup. The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund has been used for decades to fund oil spill cleanup efforts across the country.
As of Monday afternoon, more than half of the fuel had been extracted from the water by Miller Environmental Group Inc., a Baltimore contractor. A pungent smell of gas permeated the area around the waterfront park as workers used specialized vacuum cleaners to remove fuel without displacing too much water.
There was still unsalvageable fuel left in the cove when the Coast Guard completed its cleanup operation Sunday night, Oldham said. The residual fuel is expected to degrade over the next few days, and a contractor was due to be on site Wednesday to dispose of more remaining fuel.
If discovered, the dumper will be required to repay the trust fund, Oldham said. The total cost of cleaning has not yet been determined.
The Annapolis Emergency Management Office has not put in place official restrictions for the Acton Cove area, but has posted signs to discourage swimming in the area while officials clean up leftover fuel. Officials no longer believe there is a harmful level of fuel in the cove, said automaker spokeswoman Nicole Reibert.
The Spa Creek Conservancy, a volunteer group dedicated to cleaning up Spa Creek, is unlikely to see results on the remaining pollutants from the spill during the group’s weekly water testing, which is primarily used to check for bacteria in waterways. from Annapolis. But their stormwater tests could pick up leftover fuel, reserve chair Amy Clements said.
“We don’t know much more than you do, but we’re keeping an eye on it,” Clements told a reporter. “That’s never a good thing, obviously.”