Coast Guard says oil spill off Cape Porpoise being cleaned up

Posted Sept. 01, 2014, at 11:48 a.m.
Last modified Sept. 01, 2014, at 8:56 p.m.

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — The U.S. Coast Guard is overseeing an investigation and cleanup of an oil spill on the southern coast of Maine.

The spill was discovered last night in the village of Cape Porpoise, in the town of Kennebunkport. The oil washed ashore on Bickford Island.

Right now, the Coast Guard doesn’t know exactly where this oil spill came from; they’re still investigating. But the likely culprit is one of the boats out in the harbor, which presumably started leaking oil. The oil spill blackened a 150-yard stretch of shoreline on the southern end of the island.

“Unfortunately, a little bit goes a long way,” Coast Guard Lieutenant Lt. Cmdr. Timm Balunis said.

How much oil? As of now the Coast Guard isn’t sure.

“We don’t have a good sense for how much went in the water,” Balunis said.

But he is confident no more oil is spilling out into the cove.

“What we do know is it appears to be a one time release of oil,” Balunis said.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Maine Department of Environmental Protection called in environmental company Clean Harbors to respond to the spill. Booms absorbed most of the oil.

Sunday night’s downpour helped wash much of the oil off the shore and into the oil booms.

“The rain and the tide actually washed some of that into the boom, which helped recover some of the oil,” Balunis said.

“I really think they’ve done a great job cleaning up,” island resident Dick Smith said.

Smith said the oil must have come from a boat in the cove.

“Oh, I think so, because it’s so local on the beach that it had to have been a boat that was right here,” Smith said.

The Coast Guard said this black oil might be marine engine oil, which is darker in color than oil used in cars.

Most of the remaining oil, on the rocks, beach and seaweed, is above the high-tide mark.

“What you can see at the high-tide line is there is a ring of oil. So Monday and Tuesday, we’ll continue to remove that from the rocks,” Balunis said.

That remaining oil all must be soaked up by hand.

So far, seagulls and other birds seem to be staying away from the oil. The Coast Guard also believes the spill has not harmed any sea life. But tourist Helen Lewin told us she can’t help but worry.

“Knowing that there’s lobster here, I just wonder about the potential effect of such a spill,” Lewin said.

While the booms soaked up most of the oil here, there’s still a great deal of work left to be done.

If you have any information about the source of the oil spill, contact the U.S. Coast Guard office in South Portland. You can call Lt. Cmdr. Timm Balunis at 207-756-9764.

 

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