As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Oil Pollution Act, we're looking back on a few oil spills around the country and our work to assess and restore the natural resources harmed by those spills.
BP announced on July 2, 2015 that it has reached an agreement in principle with the United States and the five Gulf states to settle the civil claims against the company arising out of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill tragedy.
BP has announced the value of the settlement to be approximately $18.7 billion.
On a Wednesday in mid-June, oceanic "gardeners" released over 700 young green abalone—a species of sea snail whose population has dropped dramatically—into newly restored kelp forest areas near Palos Verdes, California.
When NOAA's Gabrielle Dorr first heard about the recent oil spill near Santa Barbara, she couldn't stop thinking about the long-term impacts to the beautiful beaches of southern California, where she lives and works.
Hear from Dorr about what it is like to respond to an oil spill so close to home.
Experts estimate that thousands of corals were broken, dislodged, buried, or destroyed when the 49-foot-long catamaran M/V Aubi ran aground along the north coast of Puerto Rico the night of May 14, 2015.
A multi-organizational team, which included NOAA, was able to salvage over 800 coral colonies and is working to further stabilize the seafloor and reduce impacts to nearby corals.
A March 22 vessel collision in Galveston Bay, Texas, resulted in an oil spill of approximately 168,000 gallons. As of March 27 as predicted, strong southerly winds stranded much of the offshore oil overnight in the Matagorda region and these onshore winds are expected to bring ashore the remaining floating oil off Matagorda Island by Friday morning.
Attempting to access and share information on where chemicals are produced, stored, and transported is a challenge for state and local emergency responders trying to prevent the type of chemical disasters.
Fortunately, however, we have a suite of software tools—known as CAMEO—that helps make this task a little easier.
Although the Arctic may have "ice-free" summers, it will remain a difficult place to respond to oil spills.
With these challenging circumstances in mind, our office again will be sending spatial data specialists aboard the Coast Guard icebreaker Healy for an Arctic Technology Evaluation, a month-long scientific expedition to the Arctic Ocean to demonstrate and evaluate oil spill tools, technologies, and techniques.
During a recent scientific expedition in the Arctic Ocean, two NOAA mapping specialists demonstrated data management tools that would allow them to automate the process and increase their efficiency in the event of an oil spill.
On Thursday, September 18, 2014, we hosted a Tweetchat with NOAA GIS specialists Jill Bodnar and Zachary Winters-Staszak about NOAA's role in a recent oil spill simulation aboard an icebreaker on the Arctic Ocean.
Currently, NOAA is participating in an Arctic Technology Evaluation in the icy waters north of Alaska.
This exercise provides multiple agencies and institutions the invaluable opportunity to untangle some of this region's knotty logistical challenges on a state-of-the-art Coast Guard icebreaker in the actual Arctic environment.
Two months after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, NOAA marine biologist Gary Shigenaka would board the damaged tanker and leave with a piece of history that would inspire his 25-year-long collection of curiosities related to the ship.
Take a peek at what he's been collecting for the past 25 years since the spill.
In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, there have been various additional investments, outside of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process, in more broadly learning about and restoring the Gulf of Mexico.
These distinct efforts to fund research and restoration in the Gulf have been sizable, but keeping track of them can be, frankly, a bit confusing.
Five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, we are looking at various topics related to the response, the Natural Resource Damage Assessment science, restoration efforts, and the future of the Gulf of Mexico.
First, take a look at the complex science behind answering what seems like a simple question during oil spills: Where will the oil go?
A number of studies to understand impacts on bottlenose dolphins have been conducted over the past five years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The studies have included recovery of dead stranded dolphins and analysis of their tissues, as well as photographic monitoring, remote tissue sampling, and even capture-release health assessments of live dolphins.
What do fertilizer wastewater, an illegal dump tucked into sinkholes, and Florida wetlands have in common? Until recently, a little too much. The first two resulted in serious pollution in wetlands and other habitat in the area of Tampa Bay, Florida.
NOAA is offering assistance to a United Nations (UN) team that has arrived in the Sundarbans to serve as part of a larger assessment team providing assistance to the Government of Bangladesh following the release of approximately 325,000 liters (more than 85,000 gallons) of heavy oil.
After the two major chemical disasters of 2013, President Obama signed Executive Order 13650 to improve the safety and security of chemical facilities and to reduce the risks of hazardous chemicals to workers and communities.
As a result, NOAA and EPA are improving our software tools which help prepare responders to plan for and respond to chemical disasters.
Over the years, population, industrial growth, and the 2004 Athos I oil spill have taken their toll on the Delaware River.
Fortunately, a portion of this river as it runs through greater Philadelphia is one of 11 places welcomed into a federal program to restore degraded waterfronts and revitalize economically depressed areas along urban rivers.
NOAA recently joined other scientists and public health experts to discuss ways they could better integrate environmental and health data during disasters.
The goal was to figure out how to bring together these usually quite separate types of data and then share them with the public during future disasters, such as oils spills, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods.
The massive 2012 storm known as Sandy caused several oil spills and substantial erosion to restored tidal marshes along the mid-Atlantic coast.
Out of this destructive storm, NOAA and our partners are trying to learn as much as possible—both about how to reach restoration for affected marshes most efficiently and how to make those restoration projects even more resilient.
The productive habitat known as estuaries, where rivers meet the sea, are full of life and activity—both human and otherwise.
This means they are often the site of oil spills and chemical releases. We often find ourselves working in estuaries, trying to minimize the impacts of oil spills and hazardous waste sites on these important habitats.
Get a behind-the-scenes look at some inspiring progress in cleaning up a major problem in one area—Washington's Puget Sound—in this video from NOAA-affiliate Oregon SeaGrant on the Northwest Straits Foundation net removal project.
Construction is once again underway in an urban area along Oregon's Willamette River, a few miles downstream from the heart of Portland.
Learn about how a habitat development company is taking an "up-front" approach with the Alder Creek Restoration Project to benefit fish and wildlife affected by contamination in the Portland Harbor Superfund Site.
At the end of October 2012, Hurricane Sandy raced toward the east coast, sweeping waves of oil, hazardous chemicals, and debris into the waters along the Mid Atlantic.
In the year since, we have been working with federal, state, and local agencies to reduce the environmental impacts, restore coastal habitats, and improve the tools needed to prepare for the next disaster.
Hear from NOAA marine biologist Gary Shigenaka and aquatic toxicologist Dr. Adrian C. Bejarano as they explore the history of chemical dispersant use during oil spills and the many considerations taken into account before it is used.
Twenty-one years ago this August, NOAA's Doug Helton spent much of the month on the beaches of Florida. But not fishing and sunbathing.
Three vessels had collided in Tamba Bay, causing a major oil spill which fouled 13 miles of beaches, and Helton was there to gather time-sensitive data about the impacts to plants, animals, and recreation.
How do scientists plant seeds to help restore plants in our bays and coastal waters?
If you look out on the waters of San Francisco Bay right now, you can see "seed buoys," which are an easy, low-tech way NOAA and our partners are using to restore eelgrass beds on the bottom of the bay.
The 2010 Enbridge pipeline spill was NOAA's first major experience with damage assessment for a diluted bitumen (dilbit) spill and was also a first for nearly everyone working on the cleanup and damage assessment.
What makes this product of oil sands, also known as tar sands, different than other heavy oils and what have we learned from the Enbridge case?
Over the last few weeks, emergency managers in coastal Washington and Oregon have noted an increase in the marine debris arriving on our beaches.
NOAA oceanographer Amy MacFadyen has been trying to figure out why by examining how patterns of wind and currents in the North Pacific Ocean change with the seasons and what that means for marine debris showing up on Pacific Northwest beaches.
Just south of Seattle, Boeing Company has created one of the largest habitat restoration projects on the Lower Duwamish River.
Watch a short video to see how Boeing worked with NOAA and our partners to restore habitat for fish, shorebirds, and wildlife harmed by historical industrial activities on this heavily used urban river.
As scientists who work in oil spill response, and who also love these oil-fried creations, we know the risks from oils used to prepare these treats can threaten the environment when spilled, just like the more familiar, petroleum-based oils we usually deal with.
On May 16, we took the time to celebrate Endangered Species Day, recognizing this very important national conservation effort and the many ways, big and small, each of us can help save our nation's incredible array of plants and animals from extinction.
By the early 1960s Bald Eagles had disappeared from southern California's Channel Islands after chemical companies near Los Angeles discharged into the ocean hundreds of millions of pounds of the toxic chemicals DDT and PCBs.
Watch this Thank You Ocean Report video podcast to learn about the efforts of NOAA's Montrose Settlements Restoration Program and our partners which helped Bald Eagles make a comeback in southern California's Channel Islands.
On March 22, 2014, at approximately 12:30 pm, the 585 foot bulk carrier M/V Summer Wind collided with the oil tank-barge Kirby 27706. The incident occurred in Galveston Bay near Texas City, Texas. The barge contained approximately 1,000,000 gallons of intermediate fuel oil in multiple tanks.
Responding to a potential oil spill in the U.S. Arctic presents unique logistical, environmental, and cultural challenges unparalleled in any other U.S. water body.
In our effort to seek solutions to these challenges and enhance our Arctic preparedness and response capabilities, NOAA co-sponsored a report directed and released by the National Research Council on Arctic oil spills.
One of the iconic images of spill preparedness and response is oil boom.
You've probably seen these long ribbons of orange, yellow, or white material strung around a leaking vessel or stretched across a channel to protect sensitive areas threatened by an advancing oil slick.
Last week, NOAA and partners awarded $4.9 million to EarthCorps for long-term stewardship of restoration sites in Commencement Bay near Tacoma, Washington.
The funding will support planning, restoration, monitoring, and maintenance at 17 sites across the bay. These sites were restored over the past 20 years as part of the ongoing Commencement Bay natural resource damage assessment case.
On March 24, 2014, we hosted a Twitter Q&A with NOAA marine biologist Gary Shigenaka on the environmental impacts of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which happened 25 years earlier in Prince William Sound, Alaska.
Recently, Incident Operations Coordinator Doug Helton had the chance to observe an oil spill dispersant exercise at Ohmsett, the National Oil Spill Response Research and Renewable Energy Test Facility in Leonardo, N.J.
Learn more about how chemical dispersants are used to respond to oil spills and see photos of it at work in Ohmsett's 2.6 million gallon saltwater test tank.
NOAA, along with other federal and state officials, have released the latest draft restoration plan for shoreline, aquatic, and recreational use resources impacted by the 2003 Bouchard Barge 120 oil spill in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Learn more and view a map of the preferred restoration sites in Buzzards Bay.
Join the National Ocean Service in a recent podcast as they visit the NOAA Disaster Response Center in Mobile, Alabama, to learn how this facility is equipped to serve as the central hub for environmental disaster coordination and response in the region.
OCTOBER 15, 2012 -- NOAA dedicated a new facility for centralizing disaster coordination and response activities for federal, state, and local responders along the Gulf coast.
The Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center, based in Mobile, Ala., was designed to expand both NOAA's regional presence and the federal capacity to plan for and respond to all types of emergencies, both environmental and man-made, in the Gulf region.
In addition to its many other activities, the NOAA Marine Debris Program uses the power of funding to put much-needed dollars into the hands of a variety of worthy groups working to address marine debris across the country.
Learn about the organizations and projects aimed at removing, preventing, and researching marine debris.
As part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a team of researchers performed comprehensive health assessments of bottlenose dolphins living in Louisiana's Barataria Bay, which was oiled in the spill, and Florida's Sarasota Bay, which was not.
Read a Q&A with two of the NOAA scientists involved and watch a video to learn what their findings mean for dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico.
OCTOBER 6, 2012 -- On the heels of Hawaii's first confirmed report of Japan tsunami debris, NOAA and our partners are already examining the second confirmed item: a barnacled skiff which a fisherman found off the Hawaii coast—and which he wants to keep.
Learn more about the latest reports of marine debris connected to the 2011 Japan tsunami which has begun arriving in Hawaii.
DECEMBER 4, 2012 -- On Nov. 30, the Government of Japan announced a gift of $5 million to the United States, through NOAA's Marine Debris Program, to support efforts in response to marine debris washing ashore in the U.S. from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Ever since the first few items—an unmanned fishing boat, a childhood soccer ball—from the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami began turning up in North America, people have been asking what they should do if they find something themselves.
As it turns out, it depends on where you are and what you find.
Learn more about resources to help you deal with various types of marine debris.
A large Japanese dock swept across the Pacific Ocean after the March 2011 tsunami has now been removed from Washington's Olympic Coast.
Read more, watch a time-lapse video of the removal, and listen to a podcast about how two docks could leave Japan at the same time, cross the ocean, and arrive at two different places six months apart.
The Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco has confirmed to NOAA that a 20-foot-long skiff found near Crescent City, Calif., is the first verified piece of Japan tsunami debris to turn up in California.
They traced the skiff to Takata High School, located in Japan's Iwate Prefecture, an area devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
More than a year and thousands of miles later, a soccer ball washed away during the Japan tsunami has turned up on a remote Alaskan island and eventually could be headed back to the Japanese school grounds it originally came from.
Read more about this curious story and NOAA's involvement.
Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation, with funding and technical assistance from NOAA, begins a large-scale kelp forest restoration project off the coast of California's Palos Verdes peninsula this July.
These efforts will bring kelp forests back to life in an area where high densities of sea urchins have decimated the kelp forest canopy.
For years, a manufacturing site in McIntosh, Ala., dumped pesticide wastes into unlined pits and into the nearby Tombigbee River.
As a result, NOAA and three other federal and state agencies have announced that $3.7 million from a legal settlement will go to restoring Alabama's natural resources and habitats harmed by this pollution.
In addition to damaging manmade structures last year, Post Tropical Cyclone Sandy's strong winds and waves caused considerable change to shorelines on the East Coast.
We received funding to update our northeast Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps to reflect changes caused by the storm and to add useful new coastal information for when another disaster strikes.
The deep-sea soft-sediment ecosystem in the immediate area of the 2010's Deepwater Horizon well head blowout and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will likely take decades to recover from the spill's impacts, according to a scientific paper reported in the online scientific journal PLoS One.
NOAA has completed a multi-year process of archiving more than 2 million water samples and measurements gathered by ships in the Gulf of Mexico during and after the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil release in 2010.
This online archive of oceanographic and environmental samples, including those from the underwater oil plume, is now available to the public.
NOAA has partnered with the University of Hawaii to introduce their students to advanced underwater navigation, communication, and mapping techniques that NOAA uses in environmental assessment and restoration cases.
Learn more and see photos of this unusual undersea classroom.
In order to study and raise awareness about the problem of marine debris on Alaska's shorelines, an international group of scientists, artists, and educators, including NOAA, recently embarked on the GYRE Expedition.
Learn more about and view photos of their research cruise to study—and be inspired by—the issue of marine debris in Alaska.
After a diesel spill affected fish and other natural resources on Alaska's Adak Island, NOAA and our partners recently finished restoration work for the harm done to fish, wildlife, and their habitat by the oil spill.
Learn more and view photos of the restoration projects in action.
NOAA oceanographers were asked to forecast the possible path, or trajectory, of a large dock—possibly another item of Japan tsunami marine debris—which recently was reported to be floating off the coast of Washington state.
Learn how their modeling skills helped track down the location of this dock once it came ashore and view a video of the dock's projected path.
The White House recently released the President's Budget for Fiscal Year 2014.
Here, we take a peek into the world of science policy (and the budgets that make it possible) as we hear from our director about several exciting opportunities for research, development, and growth in response and restoration activities at NOAA.
The waters and greenery of a Texas nature center have their origins in an abandoned waterfront housing development.
Their transformation from concrete to marsh, along with the preservation of wetlands north of Houston, actually owe some thanks to Greens Bayou, a previously pesticide-laden industrial site just down the interstate.
Learn more and take a look at the past and future of these environments.
For decades, two Alcoa aluminum plants in New York discharged toxic pollutants into the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries, contributing to the loss of Mohawk traditional practices tied to the environment.
Fortunately, funds from the $19.4 million legal settlement will go toward healing this rich environment with a suite of proposed restoration projects.
The Japanese Consulate has confirmed to NOAA and our partners that the large floating dock that washed ashore in Washington's Olympic National Park in late December is in fact one of three missing docks from the fishing port of Misawa, Japan.
These docks were swept out to sea during the earthquake and tsunami off of Japan in March 2011.
In late 2005 when a barge hit a wrecked oil service platform in the Gulf of Mexico, nearly 2 million gallons of thick oil poured out and sank to the murky seafloor, where it impacted nearly 45,000 acres of habitat.
NOAA and our trustees have released a restoration plan for this area, which outlines injuries to natural resources and proposes a restoration project.
NOAA is providing scientific support to the U.S. Coast Guard after a tug and barge hit a liquefied petroleum gas pipeline the evening of March 12, 2013, resulting in a fire near Bayou Perot, 30 miles south of New Orleans, La.
Read more and watch a video of the burning pipeline.
NOAA and its co-trustees have announced substantial funding for new aquatic restoration projects on Connecticut's Housatonic River, which has suffered from decades of toxic chemical waste pollution stemming from a GE facility in Massachusetts.
Learn more about the plans for restoring affected birds, fish, and wildlife.
Response crews were able to refloat the grounded Dutch Royal Shell drilling rig Kulluk early in the morning on January 7 and successfully towed it to an intermediate safe harbor located near Kodiak Island, Alaska.
Get the latest on how NOAA science is aiding the U.S. Coast Guard response to this grounding.
As tar sands production continues to rise in North America, NOAA is working with the University of Washington to gather information that will help inform OR&R's preparedness and response efforts for potential spills of tar sands oil.
Read more about this collaborative research project.
UPDATED DECEMBER 17, 2012 -- Recovery operations are now complete for several derailed train cars carrying vinyl chloride, which ended up in a creek in Paulsboro, N.J., after the bridge they were crossing collapsed.
The derailment breached one car's tank, releasing approximately 23,000 gallons of the toxic chemical.
NOAA offered scientific support during salvage operations.
Under an unprecedented agreement announced today by the Natural Resource Trustees for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP has agreed to provide $1 billion toward early restoration projects in the Gulf of Mexico to address injuries to natural resources caused by the spill.
SEPTEMBER 10, 2012 -- For many former industrial sites around the country, the same heavy machines that injured habitat could also be used to reverse environmental damage, thus creating jobs both now and in the future.
Learn more about a recent study which found that NOAA has created 33 jobs for every $1 million spent to restore habitat through "labor intensive" projects.
NOAA works with communities to restore habitats across the United States by providing grants to local projects and by reaching out to conservation and community groups to help with rehabilitation after oil and chemical spills.
Learn more about how these collaborative efforts are making rivers better places for both fish and people.
NOAA scientists recently removed nearly 50 metric tons of marine debris—mostly abandoned fishing nets and plastics—from the turquoise waters of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
This latest sweep of marine debris also scanned for items which might have been carried there from the 2011 Japan tsunami.
The challenges with all marine debris, including debris from the 2011 Japan tsunami, are that it is difficult to trace it back to its origin with certainty, it poses environmental and safety risks, and it can impact commerce and recreation.
Find out how the different types of marine debris are handled on the West Coast.
Today, we live an era dominated by plastics—versatile, ubiquitous, "disposable" plastics.
In this "Age of Plastic," come explore the flip side of "conservation" from a materials scientist at the Smithsonian and learn about plastic's surprising conservation connection in the early days of synthetics.
The U.S. shoreline stretches 95,471 miles. However, these shores vary greatly in type, in how people use them, and in which species of birds, fish, and wildlife inhabit them.
These differences affect how sensitive the shorelines are to spilled oil and other environmental hazards.
Learn more about how NOAA works to produce Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps to identify coastal locations, wildlife, and human use resources that may be especially vulnerable to an oil spill.
It's difficult to appreciate fully the challenges of dealing with an oil spill in Arctic conditions until you venture for yourself above the Arctic Circle to a remote village such as Kotzebue, located on Alaska's northwest coast.
For the past year, NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard have been studying the possible threats that new offshore oil drilling activity near the Florida Straits and the Bahamas pose to Florida and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Find out how we're preparing for potential oil spills in the Caribbean.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are partnering to enhance the Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA) for the Arctic region by summer 2012. This effort will help address numerous challenges in the Arctic where increasing ship traffic and proposed energy development are increasing the risk of oil spills and chemical releases.
The changing Arctic climate is increasing opportunities for maritime transportation, tourism, and oil and gas exploration.
As the world increasingly turns its attention north, our office is working with industry, international governments, universities, and non-governmental organizations to understand and prepare for the possibility of future oil spills in the Arctic.
March 11 marked one year since Japan suffered one of the worst natural disasters and human tragedies in its history: the 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami.
Here at NOAA, we're preparing for a different kind of aftermath from the disaster: the possibility that debris washed into the sea by the tsunami could arrive on North American shores over the next few years.
We want your comments on early restoration projects proposed for the Gulf of Mexico following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill. These efforts help get the area's natural resources back to normal faster.
BP has provided an unprecedented $1 billion for early restoration in the Gulf. This represents an initial step toward fulfilling its obligation to fund the complete restoration of natural resources impacted by the 2010 oil spill.
A settlement announced on Sept. 19, 2011, will restore natural resources injured by the Nov. 7, 2007, M/V Cosco Busan oil spill in the San Francisco Bay. This is a historic $44.4 million settlement with the companies responsible for the spill. State and federal trustee agencies will use the majority of funds to implement a variety of restoration projects for birds, fish, and habitat in the bay.
State and federal trustee agencies will use most of the funds from a $36.8 million settlement of natural resource damages to restore natural resources injured by the Nov. 7, 2007 oil spill in the San Francisco Bay and to improve Bay Area recreational opportunities impacted by the spill.
NOAA scientist Amy Merten and her team are one of four finalists for the Samuel J. Heyman Partnership for Public Service to America Medal for Homeland Security. They were nominated for their efforts in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to refine and expand the capability of an innovative tool providing responders and decision makers with quick access to spill data in a secure and user-friendly format.