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2/5/2016 Oil Spill Update by Sarah Giordano, a one year Chesapeake Conservation Corps volunteer.

As many of you know, oil spilled into a tributary of Crab Creek last week due to a leak in Annapolis Middle School’s boiler room (see below). The source of the spill has been fixed and the Maryland Department of Environment deployed white, absorbent oil rolls, called booms, to soak up the oil. However, South Riverkeeper, Jesse Iliff, is concerned that oil may have already reached the tidal portion of the Crab Creek. 

oil glob

On Wednesday, Jesse asked me to take water and soil samples from where the impacted stream connects with the tidal portion of Crab Creek. With these samples, the Federation hopes to be able to assess the severity of the spill and predict its impact.  The results of these water and soil tests will determine how the Federation proceeds, as there are different sets of regulations designed to protect freshwater streams and tidal and/or navigable waters.  

 On my way out to collect the sample, I was pleased to see that booms were still in place to capture oil, especially since the heavy rain that day was likely to wash more oil out from the channel. The creek was no longer red with heating oil (or green with die used indicate that the oil had been completely flushed out of the sump pump) as it had been last Friday. When I reached the sample site, however, I was dismayed to see that large globs of oil were making their way into the tidal portion of Crab Creek.  Here are just a few of the photos taken from the outing.

Even before the oil spill, the Federation’s monitoring program had identified Crab Creek as the third most impaired creek in the South River, after Church and Broad Creeks. Just this past summer, bacterial counts for this Crab Creek site were incredibly high. I am hopeful that as the Federation implements restoration projects on Crab Creek, the overall health of this stream ecosystem will take a turn for the better. 

Stay tuned for more updates!


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