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UPDATE: Unified Command responds to reports of tar balls and sheen off coast of Rockaway, NY


Coast Guard Petty Officer NiChelle Flynn and New York Department of Environmental Conservation environmental engineer Rick Lin patrol Breezy Point Beach Sunday, March 31, 2019, searching for tar balls. On Thursday, the motor vessel Dublin Express leaked fuel in the Arthur Kill waterway. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicole J. Groll) New York Department of Environmental Conservation environmental engineer Rick Lin collects tar ball samples Sunday, March 31, 2019, at Breezy Point Beach. The Goethals oil spill unified command sent teams to assess shore impacts. (U.S Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicole J. Groll)

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NEW YORK — Members of the Unified Command for Goethals Oil Spill continue responding to a report of sheening and tar balls received Saturday from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC).

During shoreline assessments conducted Sunday afternoon, members of the Unified Command Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Technique (SCAT) teams located a 400-yard by two-feet band of tar balls at Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways. The Unified Command intends to deploy crews proficient in the cleanup of the tar balls on Monday when the tide is favorable to clean-up any impacted areas.

Five SCAT teams: four teams in New York and one team in New Jersey, consisting of members of the Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and Gallagher Marine Systems, were deployed to conclusively determine the presence of any pollution to beaches that were identified as possible impact areas based on the trajectory provided by the NOAA scientific support coordinator.

As SCAT teams continue to survey the predetermined beaches, they will assess the shoreline to determine if tar balls are present. If they do come across any evidence of oil on the beach, the teams will provide a report based on their observations. Those reports are used by operations to determine future clean-up strategies.

“Upon receiving word from our Unified Command partners about potential impacts of oil to the shoreline, we took aggressive steps investigating and confirming those reports in order to determine the scope of our response,” said Capt. Jason Tama, commander Sector New York and the Federal On-Scene Coordinator. “Our priorities continue to be responding to this incident ensuring the safety of the public, wildlife and the environment.”

“Our number one goal is to ensure the public and the environment are protected and DEC will continue to work closely with the United States Coast Guard, and our state and local partners to quickly identify and clean up any impacted areas,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “We encourage anyone who observes any impacts from this spill to contact the command center immediately to assist in our response efforts as our investigation of this incident continues.”

Beach goers and waterway users are advised to avoid contact with the tar balls. If anyone does come into contact with the tar balls and gets the oil on their skin or clothes, they should wash their hands with soap and warm water, and clothes immediately.

For all claims, for reports of oiled wildlife, reports of tar balls, and for media queries please call 866-601-5880.