Investigators still trailing Udall’s oil

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City and federal officials were closer to tracing the source of an oil spill that coated the lower end of Little Neck Bay last week, but none would confirm rumors Monday that the contamination came from a Bayside apartment house.

A spokeswoman for the city Parks Department said investigators have some leads on the origins of the mystery oil spill that has been threatening the shoreline of Bayside, Bay Terrace , Little Neck, and Douglaston as well as Udall’s Cove, a wetland preserve on the eastern side of the bay.

“They have some potential sources of it,” spokeswoman Jane Rudolph said. “There is still a major amount of cleanup to be done.”

A spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard said he did not have any new information on the cause of the oil spill, but that whoever is finally held responsible would have to pay the costs.

“They would incur all costs for the cleanup,” spokesman Tom Sperduto said. “It’s at half a million right now.”

But a field supervisor overlooking work at Memorial Field in Douglas Manor said last Thursday that investigators had pinpointed the source of the spill to an apartment house with a leaky heating-oil tank in Bayside.

The Little Neck Bay oil spill was discovered March 28 and has spread throughout the bottom half of the bay. The city Parks Department, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Coast Guard have been working together to clean the spill.

Workers from a Long Island company contracted by the Coast Guard to assist in the cleanup have been using special absorbent materials to clean rocks along the shoreline of Little Neck Bay and to soak up the oil in the water. Special barriers were used to contain the spill and protect areas that had been cleaned.

Udall’s Cove is a wetlands preserve on the eastern edge of Little Neck Bay that is bordered by Douglaston on its west side, Little Neck on the east, Great Neck, L.I. on the northeastern side, and Northern Boulevard in the south.

Sitting directly in the North Atlantic Flyway — the migratory path of birds on their way to Canada — Udall’s Cove acts as an important breeding and feeding ground for several different types of birds.

While few dead birds have been reported so far as a result of the oil spill, the pollution was expected to erode the shoreline of Little Neck Bay, kill off mussels and other small organisms and reduce the wetlands’ power to rejuvenate itself.

Lou Rosado, a field supervisor for Trade Winds, the company contracted by the Coast Guard, said last Thursday that his workers were finding pockets of oil within the shoreline and within the heart of Udall’s Cove on the eastern side of Douglas Manor.

Virginia Dent, an environmental activist who has helped preserve Udall’s Cove, surveyed the cove last week.

“It’s going to be a while before it all gets out,” she said.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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