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Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England

Pawcatuck Oil Sheen Response

On April 8, 2010, the RI Department of Environmental Management responded to a report of an oil sheen on the Pawcatuck River in Westerly, RI. DEM traced the source of the sheen to a culvert that empties stormwater into the river near 22 River St. in Westerly, RI. The Pawcatuck River forms the border between the towns of Westerly, Rhode Island and Pawcatuck, Connecticut.

At the time, heavy rains over an extended period of time had resulted in flooding throughout southern New England, including the Pawcatuck River. DEM was able to halt the discharge to the river and contain the sheen by putting a boom and pads at the outfall of the culvert.

Over the next 24 hours, heavy rains resulted in increased stormwater flowing into the culvert, overwhelming the boom. The discharge of oil to the river resumed, and on the morning of April 9, oil sheen sightings were reported on both banks of the River. Personnel from both DEM and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection responded to investigate. DEM asked EPA to help with the response.

EPA also called in a contractor, who put in another containment boom and sorbents at the outfall of the culvert to prevent additional oil from discharging to the river. The boom was effective in containing the oil at the outfall. Because of the flooding, no oil could be recovered from the river, and the oil sheen dissipated rapidly.

DEM monitored the outfall, and by April 23 there was no visual evidence of oil. EPA's contractor removed the containment boom and sorbents and debris contaminated with oil were shipped off site for disposal.

Location: 22 River St., Westerly, RI
EPA Mobilization Date*: 04/09/2010
EPA Demobilization Date*: 04/23/2010
Contact: Claudia Deane (deane.claudia@epa.gov)

*The information contained on this website is merely informational; any dates found on the website cannot be relied upon to create any rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable by any party in litigation with the United States. EPA reserves the right to change such dates at any time without public notice.

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