about south river federation

Timeline of Events by Jesse Iliff, South Riverkeeper

On Thursday, Jan. 28th at approximately 5 p.m:

The Federation learned from a concerned citizen of an oil spill into a stream that flows from under Spa Road into Crab Creek on the South River. I immediately visited the scene and spotted Maryland Department of Environment's (MDE) Emergency Response Team at the site. I spoke with a representative of MDE who told me that there was a leak in the Annapolis Middle School's boiler room that traveled from a sump pump where it was collected into a storm drain and then into the stream. I walked across the road and upon exiting my car could clearly smell the oil, but because it was getting dark I was not able to see very well in the steep and snowy stream bed.

OilSpill1On Friday, Jan 29th at approximately 9 a.m:
Upon returning the next morning at about 9:00 a.m., it was clear that although not on the level of the Deepwater Horizon or Exxon Valdez spills, that significant quantities of oil had escaped into the stream, and traveled a long way towards tidal water. Personnel from ACE Environmental Services had begun cleanup efforts in the stream by deploying absorbent oil booms and pads for approximately 2/3 mi. of stream channel. I photographed many of the collected pockets of oil and foam along that distance and the Federation quickly published those pictures to Facebook and Twitter.

On Friday, the 29th at approximately 11 a.m:
I contacted a representative of Anne Arundel County Public Schools who stated that neither the County nor MDE had determined the amount of oil that should have been in the tank and compared it to the amount left after the leak was repaired to determine the amount of oil released into the stream. As of this writing, that analysis still has not been performed, but MDE has estimated that less than 250 gallons was spilled.


On Friday, the 29th at approximately 2 p.m:
Returned to the site with Sarah Giordano from our office to walk the entire length of the stream from the culvert passing under Spa Road to the tidal reach of Crab Creek to obtain water and soil samples and take additional photographs. During this visit we observed small flecks of oil flowing into the tidal waters, although it appeared that the vast majority of the oil was contained by the intercepting measures installed by MDE and its contractor ACE Environmental.

Update: I am trying to determine the amount of oil released into the stream to estimate what effect the spill will have on water quality or wildlife and habitat. At this point, neither the County nor the State has elected to subtract the amount of oil remaining in the tank from the amount their records would show was in it prior to the spill. I am in the process of filing a request under the Public Information Act for this information.


The Federation has monitored this site for several years now and will continue to do so with special attention to the effects of the spill on the stream and Crab Creek. In addition, the Federation intends to monitor all cleanup efforts and enforcement actions taken or proposed in response to the spill, and will keep our members apprised of these efforts as they unfold. . Prior to the spill, the Federation ranked Crab Creek as the 3rd most impaired waterway on the South River behind Church Creek and Broad Creek.
As always, we are grateful to the vigilant citizens who help us keep an eye on the River and its watershed, and encourage anyone witnessing or suspecting harmful environmental practices to contact us immediately and voice their concerns so that we may take speedy action to preserve and protect the South River.


Crab Creek final pic for newsletter