USCG continues clean up, investigation of oil spill

By Live 5 News Staff email | twitter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Coast Guard spent Monday on Seabrook Isand helping clean up the oil spill from last Tuesday. They're using shovels and bags to remove the tar from the beach itself.

The oil spill was first detected six days ago in Charleston Harbor. Waters have been affected everywhere from  Sullivans Island to Morris Island.

On Saturday, tar balls started washing up on Edisto and Seabrook. Marine science technician 1st class Anthony Clark says the cooler weather helps keep people off the beach, but sunshine would help clean up efforts by burning the oil off.

He adds that, so far, marine life hasn't been affected.

A new advisory has made these waters off limits includes ocean water, marshes and inlets. The Coast Guard is investigating and trying to figure out how the oil spill happened, but they do say its likely not from the F-16 crash since the fuel used in jets is a different kind that evaporates rapidly and doesn't create these tarballs.

On Tuesday, several mariners reported an oil sheen and tar balls, emulsified petroleum products, in the mouth of Charleston Harbor, between Fort Moultrie, Morris Island and on both Sullivan's Island and Folly Beach.

An HH-65 Coast Guard helicopter crew from Air Facility Charleston and a small boat crew from Aids to Navigation Team Charleston immediately investigated and confirmed the report. Small tar balls were located Wednesday night and Thursday morning on the north side of Kiawah Island and on the shoreline near the mouth of the Stono River.  Clean-up crews were on scene today at these locations, and will likely continue operations through the weekend.

Clean-up crews on Sullivan's Island and near Fort Sumter were finishing their operations this afternoon.  Clean-up will continue on Folly Beach through Friday.

Assessments by Coast Guard helicopters Thursday found no evidence of additional oil offshore. Shore-line assessment teams confirmed no sightings of oil on Seabrook Island and Edisto Island.

The Coast Guard will continue to assess and respond to new sightings.

The source of the spilled petroleum product remains under investigation.  The investigation is likely to take several more days to complete.

The Coast Guard has asked the public to minimize maritime traffic in the harbor and near affected shorelines. Report any significant sightings of impacted beaches, marsh or other areas to Coast Guard Sector Charleston at (843) 740-7090.

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