Richard McIntire of the Maryland Department of the Environment, ever ready with the pertinent details, gives us the skinny on the water-fouling mess: "What you saw out in the harbor was essentially 150 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil, which is used in the marine industry. The Coast Guard is doing an investigation to determine exactly where it came from--it's suspected either from a ship that was delivering to Domino Sugar or perhaps from one of the nearby marinas." (Repeated attempts to reach anyone at Domino for a comment were in vain.)
The Nose hit the harbor waters again on April 16, to check out the spill's aftermath. The suspect ship, a 600-foot bulk carrier named Wadi Halfa out of Alexandria, Egypt, was still pulled up aside the Domino Sugar plant--but now a containment boom surrounded it, along with Domino's entire waterfront facility. At the nearby Harborview Marina, a posh, stretched-out racing sloop--the Angel Dust out of Guernsey, England--was tied fast to the marina wall, sporting a nasty looking case of oil spill stains on her otherwise pristine white fiberglass hull. Its commandant was not aboard, but presumably the well-heeled owner isn't planning a return trip to Mobtown's tarry shores anytime soon.
The cormorants, ducks, and gulls we saw cavorting around the harbor waters, though, appeared as clean as could be expected--given the woefully degraded state of the waters of the Patapsco River's Northwest Branch, which ends at Harborplace. And, fortunately, we saw no dead fish floating belly up--a common sight along our sad, sickly waterfront.
When we finally caught up with the Coast Guard on April 17, the cause of the spill was still under investigation. "We're close to completing the cleanup, and we've taken samples from the ship, Domino Sugar, other nearby vessels, and various other locations in the area and sent them up to our lab in Groton, Conn., to try to determine who was responsible," explains Coast Guard spokesman John Nay over the phone. Nay further explained that the Wadi Halfa is scheduled to leave Baltimore, but if the investigation points to them as the party responsible for the spill, "we can still go after them for the clean-up costs."
As for cleaning up oil-stained boats left in the wake of the spill, Nay suggests the Lady Maryland's method of scrubbing with deck brushes. "If they are going to use detergents, they should put containment booms around their vessels so the water doesn't get further contaminated. Either that, or they should haul their boats, clean them on shore, and contain the runoff for proper disposal."
Something Old, Something New (4/14/2010)
St. Francis Neighborhood Center holds community greening to promote unity in Reservoir Hill
Photos of Outrageous Tidal Action in Fells Point (1/25/2010)
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