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Decades of Support for Spill Responses

For significant oil or chemical spills, OR&R is responsible for providing scientific support to the Federal On-Scene Coordinator (FOSC) overseeing the response. Under the National Contingency Plan and the National Response Plan, OR&R works with the U.S. Coast Guard, which is the FOSC for marine spills, while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assumes this responsibility for inland spills. 

OR&R has provided emergency response for thousands of oil and chemical spills over the years. IncidentNews provides a comprehensive list of spills and other incidents we have supported – but check out this timeline of significant incidents for a brief summary of each.

  • December 15, 1976 | Argo Merchant Oil Spill

    The Liberian tanker Argo Merchant went aground on Fishing Rip (Nantucket Shoals), 29 nautical miles southeast of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts in high winds and 10-foot seas.

  • November 26, 2004 | Athos I Oil Spill

    While preparing to dock at a refinery just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the single-hulled tanker Athos I unknowingly struck a large anchor submerged in the Delaware River. The impact punctured the tanker's hull, and it began leaking more than 263,000 gallons of heavy oil into the tidal waters of this busy East Coast shipping route.

  • November 7, 2007 | Cosco Busan Oil Spill

    The container ship Cosco Busan struck the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, California in heavy fog, resulting in a 100-foot gash in the hull of the vessel and release of 58,000 gallons of fuel oil into San Francisco Bay. The spill precipitated widespread beach closures, recreational and commercial fishery closures, and cancellation of many activities associated with use of Bay waters.

  • April 20, 2010 | Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

    An explosion on the Deepwater Horizon Macondo oil well drilling platform tragically killed 11 workers, and started the largest marine oil spill in U.S. history, releasing millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.