Removing spilled oil from the environment is difficult, time consuming, and expensive especially if a critical habitat or ecologically sensitive area has been affected. Past removal practices have had extreme deleterious effects on the ecosystem both immediate and long-term to such extent as to question whether removing oil from these sensitive systems are environmentally wise in the first place. This presentation will attempt to show that a carefully supervised cleanup followed by a scientifically driven monitoring program can be effective in removing oil from a sensitive wetland habitat using the Green Pond Oil Spill Removal project as the prime example.
This project involved a small flood plain wetland located on the south bank of the Pequannock River in Morris County, New Jersey which was contaminated by oil seeping out of the ground. The source of the oil was from a pipeline that transported oil from the oil fields in western New York State to Bayonne at the turn of the century. The pipeline was abandoned in the 1920's and removed, leaving behind subsurface deposits of spilled oil that contaminated the adjacent wetland during periods of elevated groundwater. Six to eight inches of the native soil horizon was removed as part of the oil spill cleanup effort thereby denuding the wetland.
The Revegetation/Restoration commenced with the placement of hemp mat to minimize erosion as all of the stream side vegetation was removed during the cleanup operation followed by the emplacement of coir logs along the stream edge. In the spring of 1999, plantings of potted native shrubs and forbes were installed by a private landscape firm experienced in wetland restoration. A deer fence was placed around the entire site to protect the new plantings
A monitoring program for determining the success of the revegetation/restoration effort with Spring and end-of-the-growing season surveys conducted along established transects and throughout the overall site. Species composition and productivity measurements were an integral part of the parameters to measure the progress of the effort to determine comparability between the remediated site and undisturbed wetlands. An Invasive Species Management plan was an integral activity of the Revegetation/ Restoration Project for the Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), an invasive plant from Northern Europe. Herbivous beetles (Galerucella calmariensis and Galerucella pusilla) were obtained from the State of New Jersey Bio-Control Laboratory and released at the site. The success of this control strategy was monitored using a protocol developed by Dr. Brend Blossey at Cornell University.
The presentation will incorporate all that has been learned from the removal activity in terms of How Clean is Clean as applied to an oil contaminated fresh water wetland. This information should be useful for decision makers, responders, and consultants alike when faced with remediating disturbed or contaminated habitats.