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Chalk Point, Maryland, Oil Spill Restoration
Date Posted: February 10, 2003The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and Maryland Department of Environment have developed plans aimed at restoring natural resources damaged by an April 7, 2000, oil pipeline spill in southern Maryland.
The spill occurred on when an underground pipeline carrying a mixture of No. 2 and No. 6 oil ruptured at the Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco) Chalk Point generating facility in Aquasco, Maryland, resulting in the release of approximately 126,000 gallons of oil into Swanson Creek. Initially, the spill was contained in Swanson Creek but high winds resulted in oil being blown over containment booms and into the Patuxent River, a tributary of Chesapeake Bay, oiling approximately 40 miles of shoreline, many of which were tidal wetlands.
Natural resource injury categories include lost recreational use, wetlands, birds (primarily ruddy ducks), fish/shellfish, and benthos. Preferred restoration alternatives for recreational use include paddle-in campsites on the Patuxent River, construction of a fishing pier, foot trails in two state parks, an ADA accessible canoe/kayak launch and repair of a public boat ramp. Restoration projects for other injured resources include the creation of approximately six acres of tidal wetlands, one acre of beach habitat, and 4 to 5 acres of oyster reef sanctuary in the Patuxent River and conservation of ruddy duck nesting habitat in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota. The Service’s Chesapeake Bay Field Office has the lead on implementing the ruddy duck project and will be working with the USFWS Habitat and Population Evaluation Team (HAPET) in Region 6 (includes: Colorado, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming) to acquire perpetual easements and restore grassland on several hundred acres of nesting habitat. Companies responsible for the spilled oil will fund restoration efforts beginning in the Spring of 2003.