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For Immediate Release

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Winds Abate, Additional Workers And Equipment Join Oil Spill Clean Up Operations At Chalk Point

For Immediate Release
April 10, 2000

More than 100 Pepco employees were transferred today from their normal work assignments to clean shoreline areas along the Patuxent River. High winds that hampered the cleanup operation during the weekend abated Sunday night, enabling workers to reposition the floating containment booms in Swanson Creek and preventing additional oil from entering the river.

Spotted stretches of the eastern river shoreline in Calvert County have a one-to-three foot wide ribbon of oil that washed up on the beach during the weekend.

The Pepco workers joined several contract companies, which are U.S. Coast Guard certified, in placing special absorbent blankets on the riverbank to soak up the oil. The blankets are then contained and prepared for disposal.

Four open water recovery boats and equipment from the Navy and private contractors in Baltimore and Norfolk are working in the Patuxent to collect oil that was blown into the river by the high winds Saturday night and Sunday.

Hundreds of workers from state and federal agencies are involved in the round-the-clock clean-up operations. Officials from Prince George's, Calvert and Charles counties have provided support and are on site.

All Pepco workers in the shoreline cleanup have been trained in the handling of regulated materials.  Wind and choppy tidal conditions drew the oil over portions of more than one-mile of containment booms in the creek. The majority of the affected area where the oil leaked from a Pepco pipeline - 45-acres of marshland - is on the property of Pepco's Chalk Point Generating Station in Aquasco, MD, located at the confluence of Swanson Creek and the Patuxent River. However, a plume of oil extends beyond Swanson Creek into the Patuxent River to beyond the Route 381 bridge at Benedict, MD, two miles south of the plant.

The marsh area is a natural habitat for muskrats and fish. About a dozen muskrats have died, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rescued three swans and about 25 ducks.

Pepco's pipeline management company detected and confirmed the leak from a 12-mile branch of the 51-mile underground pipeline on April 7, at 6 PM. By 7 PM, the utility company had more than one mile of booms in place containing Number 2 fuel oil, which is similar to home heating oil, and a slight amount of heavier Number 6 oil. The pipeline management company, ST Services, was in the process of flushing and cleaning the 12-mile branch of the pipeline that serves the Chalk Point power plant in preparation for its regular inspection. The pipeline normally transports heavier weight Number 6 oil used to generate electricity during the peak-use summer and winter months.

Chalk Point Generating Station is the largest power plant in Maryland, using coal, oil and natural gas to generate electricity. It is one of Pepco's six power plants that serve Washington, DC and the Maryland suburbs and provides electricity to the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative.

Point of Contact:
Nancy Moses

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