Testing of oil samples taken from ships that might have spilled the fuel that washed up in Atlantic Beach and Long Beach last week will probably take place by next week
, the Coast Guard said.
After the approximately 500 gallons of heavy No. 6 oil residue washed up on almost a mile of beach, the Coast Guard used an automatic identification system that reports a vessel's position by radio to an agency office in Staten Island. The agency came up with nine vessels that entered or left New York Harbor in the 48 hours before the spill was detected by surfers.
Coast Guard investigators from regional offices in New York, New Haven, Conn., and Hampton Roads, Va., collected samples from the fuel tanks and cargo holds of the seven ships identified by the New York vessel traffic center as headed to U.S. ports. These will be compared at the Coast Guard Marine Safety Lab in Groton, Conn., with samples collected from the beach by the Marine Safety Detachment in Coram.
If there's no match, the agency will track down two other ships en route to overseas ports to obtain oil samples.
Twenty-four cubic yards of crude oil and contaminated sand were removed from the beaches during the cleanup. The impact of the spill on marine wildlife appeared to be negligible, officials said.