Oil Spill Cleanup Continues in Woods Hole’s Great Harbor

WOODS HOLE – Several agencies continue cleaning up an oil spill that was discovered Sunday in Woods Hole.

During a briefing on Thursday afternoon, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Senior Scientist Dr. Chris Reddy said they were working to, “make a bad thing from getting worse.”

The Coast Guard and other response organizations were notified of the spill in Great Harbor just after 1 p.m. Heavy sheen was found on the water by a Woods Hole resident.

The amount of oil that spilled in the water and the source of the spill remained unknown as of Thursday afternoon.

But a tug boat that was in the area around the time of the spill was being looked at by the Coast Guard to see if it had any responsibility for the spill.

Coast Guard Captain Richard Schultz called the boat a “party of interest.”

At least 23 dead birds have been recovered from the area since Sunday.

It was unclear how many died from coming in contact with the product, which officials believe was lubricating oil.

“We don’t know if they’re all related to that oil spill. We are in the process of documenting them,” said Falmouth Deputy Director of Marine Environment Chuck Martinson.

Shellfishing in the area has been banned until further notice. Experts said fin fish would not be impacted by the spill.

Cleanup crews quickly deployed 1,000 feet of containment and absorbent boom in the harbor in the hours after the first report to begin removing the oil and containing the spill.

“There were no known sources in the area,” said Coast Guard Ensign Nathan Mendes, which led them to the containment phase.

Hard containment booms were initially deployed.

“They spread a wide net to keep that sheen in the containment area,” said Mendes.

Response crews have been on scene since the first report of the oil.

“We want to get the residual oil out and determine the responsible party,” said Mendes.

Most of the recoverable product was on the rocks and right along the shore.

Jamie Gonzales with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection said they were collecting samples from the water in an effort to get more information on the nature of the incident.

“The actual environment is helping the cleanup,” he said.

A Woods Hole resident spoke at the Thursday forum and said he saw a tugboat in the area of the spill Sunday afternoon.

When he asked the crew about the spill, they reportedly said it was nothing to worry about and that it was vegetable oil from their hydraulic system.

By MATT PITTA, CapeCod.com News Director

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