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OR&R Celebrates 25th Anniversary

MARCH 4, 2024 — On February 28, 2024, the Office of Response and Restoration turned 25! NOAA’s National Ocean Service (NOS) commemorated this anniversary by reflecting back to pivotal moments in OR&R’s history that established the office’s foundation.

 Response vessels demonstrating how to clean up spilled oil in water in Vancouver, B.C.
Oil spill cleanup demonstration at Clean Pacific 2015 conference, Vancouver B.C. (June 2015 - Vancouver, B.C. credit: Pacific States/B.C. Oil Spill Task Force)

OR&R dates back beyond its official inception in 1999. In 1976, the tanker Argo Merchant grounded near Nantucket Shoals in Massachusetts. When the ship broke apart — ultimately spilling nearly eight million gallons of oil — the U.S. Coast Guard turned to a NOAA research team to provide scientific expertise in support of operational decisions. That team evolved and grew into NOAA’s OR&R.

Along the way, the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster fortified OR&R’s role in emergency decision support and injury assessment in support of environmental restoration. Over the decades since, OR&R has continued to adapt to new threats to continue achieving their mission of preparing for, evaluating, and responding to threats to coastal environments, including oil and chemical spills, releases from hazardous waste sites, and marine debris.

To celebrate this achievement, NOS Assistant Administrator Nicole LeBoeuf shared a special video message. OR&R thanks its partners and stakeholders for their support and looks forward to another 25 years.

Last updated Friday, March 8, 2024 11:29am PST