Foam and Stench
Reported on November 27, 2001
Delaware Dept of
Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC)
William J. Winkler, biologist
The following is an account of that day and the
months thereafter, of one citizens' report of the lime-green water and foam and
another citizens' request for a complete chemical analysis to be conducted on
the lime-green water and inaction by DNREC on that
(chemical analysis is in micrograms per liter, ug/L)
(Chemical analysis by DNREC chemist with 15 years experience)
Note: near shore levels of most elements are normally
higher than that of open ocean, but should they be this high?
DNREC EMERGENCY RESPONSE REPORTS:
"NO LIME-GREEN WATER OBSERVED".
On November 27, 2001 a resident of Lewes, Delaware while metal detecting on
Dewey Beach's Atlantic Coast, could not help but notice the lime-green color of
the water and foam of the same color floating with a stench in the air.
Surfers were in that water, she said. Her phone call to me, about 300pm
that afternoon, put in motion what citizens are supposed to do: report unusual
colored water to the Department of Natural Resources. I gave her the toll free
phone number to call DNREC Emergency Response, 800-662-8802.
The resident from Lewes spoke to Mr. Costello at DNREC. She told him of
the lime-green water and stench. Mr. Costello assured her that due to an
offshore tropical storm and large swells coming into the Delaware coast, there
was no cause for alarm. He told her that the swells were stirring up the bottom
sediment and that's all it was. Nothing to be concerned about.
The Lewes resident called me back and told me what Mr. Costello had told
her. I then called DNREC Emergency Response and spoke to Mr. Costello. I told
him that someone needed to get down to the beach and get a water sample for a
complete chemical analysis. He turned my call over to his boss, Mr. Mohrman. Mr.
Mohrman and I know each other from a Red Tide incident in August of 2000(some of
you may know that story). Mr. Mohrman listened to my concerns about finding out
what chemicals or toxins were in the water since swimmers during the summer of
2000 experienced burning skin, eyes, muscle spasms, severe nausea and an
inordinate peeling of the skin. He did not say that he would take a water
Mr. Mohrman evidently did ask Mr. Costello to check out the water in
Dewey, since he lives in the vicinity. Mr. Costello called the Lewes resident
twice from the beach on his cell phone. He told her he did not see any
lime-green water or smell anything out of the ordinary. The Lewes resident asked
where he was and said, "well you're not where I told you to go". Even after the
second call, Mr. Costello was still not where the Lewes resident reported the
In the mean time, I had called a friend of mine at the University of
Delaware in Lewes, and told him of the lime-green water and asked if he could go
to Dewey Beach to sample the water. He acknowledged that he could and sampled
the water. He said he did see the lime-green water in patches but didn't smell
anything out of the ordinary. Later he smelled the sample water and said it did
have an odor to it.
I called back to Mr. Mohrman and told him that my friend at the U. of
Delaware was getting a water sample and that his response truck could pick up
the sample from him to have it analyzed.
NO RESPONSE TO CHEMICAL ANALYSIS
As of April 25, 2002 after several calls and a personal inquiry to an
executive in DNREC by my friend at the University about having the water sample
tested, no effort by DNREC Emergency Response has been made to pick up the water
sample to have it tested, not even a return phone call.
LIME GREEN-WATER SAMPLE SENT
TO DNREC LAB FOR
On December 4, 2001, one week after acquiring the
water sample from Dewey Beach and not hearing back from DNREC, I called the
DNREC lab myself and asked if I could send in a water sample for analysis. The
lab tech said sure, send it in. I called my friend at the university and asked
him to bring the sample to Ocean View so we could mail the sample to the DNREC
lab for analysis. Keep in mind the sample had been in his possession since the
day of sampling and all scientific protocol had been followed as far as proper
water testing. Approximately one half of the water sample was poured into
another sterile bottle and mailed by U.S. Mail to the chemist for analysis. On
December 22, 2001, the results listed above in micrograms per liter(ug/L) were
received in the mail from the chemist. We did the job that DNREC Emergency
Response should have done on November 27, 2001.
I sent a registered letter to Governor Minner when she
was elected. I said in the letter that the DNREC needs to be reviewed. In a
meeting with Governor Minner in 2001, I reiterated my concerns. Governor Minner
said she didn't remember a registered letter and said her aid probably had
Changes have yet to be made at DNREC, especially in
the water quality section. I am asking again, "Can we get some cooperation
please?" People should be made aware of what they are swimming or surfing in or
not allowed to swim in the water if there is chemical contamination. Testing
only for bacterial levels during the summer months is not enough. Regular
chemical testing should be done year round, since surfers are in the water
throughout the year.