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OR&R Weekly Report

The Office of Response and Restoration publishes this weekly round-up of news and information of interest to our partners, stakeholders, and team members. Click to subscribe

A small group of trainees poses together for a group photo aboard a boat.

JULY 22, 2024 — The commonly held belief that good things come in threes was evident this year when NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) followed up on the success of last year’s inaugural safety training by providing not one, but three Safety Academy training opportunities. Geared toward the continuous improvement and maturation of OR&R’s safety culture, this year took a more inclusive approach by offering safety training relevant to both field and office staff.

Discarded balloons littering a beach.

JULY 22, 2024 — On July 10, the NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) and the California Ocean Protection Council hosted an Ocean Litter Strategy webinar. Bringing together over 50 partners from across the state, the webinar reached a diverse set of sectors including state agencies, nonprofits, private organizations, and academia.

May 2024

Two NOAA Marine Debris Program staff snap a selfie outside donning eclipse glasses.

The NOAA Marine Debris Program's Chief Scientist, Amy V. Uhrin gave the keynote address at Sea Grant’s Microplastics in the Coastal Region workshop held April 8-10, 2024, in Charleston, South Carolina.

Duwamish River People’s Park (Terminal 117, T117) along the Lower Duwamish River in Washington, showing a stepping stone pathway to a public access boat launch.

MAY 6, 2024 — On April 23 - 24, the Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R), led by Director Scott Lundgren, hosted a two-day tour of major restoration and debris removal projects in Washington State for Deputy Assistant Administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management Paul Scholz. A congressional staffer for Senator Patty Murray’s (D-WA) also joined for key events.

The banks of Raritan River, New Jersey.

MAY 6, 2024 — On April 8, 2024, the New Jersey District Court accepted the entry of a settlement reached by NOAA and our co-trustees with Wyeth Holdings, LLC. This settlement compensates for natural resource injuries resulting from hazardous substance releases at/near the American Cyanamid Superfund Site in Bridgewater, New Jersey.

A pile of derelict fishing gear.

MAY 6, 2024 — On April 30, several members from the NOAA Marine Debris Program within the Office of Response and Restoration joined OR&R’s Scientific Support and Regional Preparedness Coordinator William Whitmore to host a Marine Debris 101 workshop for partners and stakeholders in the New England region. Roughly three dozen participants attended the 90-minute virtual workshop.

April 2024

A group of student trainees stand in a group along a Massachusetts shoreline.

APRIL 29, 2024 — During an early April Nor’easter, team members from OR&R’s Emergency Response Division hosted two dozen students at a Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Technique (SCAT) training in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

A half sunken abandoned derelict vessel that crashed into a marina walkway marked off with caution tape.

APRIL 29, 2024 — On April 23, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program, announced a request for proposals under the Hurricane Response Marine Debris Removal Fund.

APRIL 29, 2024 — On April 23, Nancy Wallace, director of the NOAA Marine Debris Program within the Office of Response and Restoration, spoke about the dangers of plastic pollution to an audience of Pfizer employees as a part of its company-wide Earth Week seminar series.

A tangled pile of derelict fishing gear on the shoreline.

APRIL 22, 2024 — On April 15, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, in partnership with the NOAA Marine Debris Program, announced a request for proposals under the Nationwide Fishing Trap Removal, Assessment, and Prevention (TRAP) Program. With funding from the NOAA Marine Debris Program provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science will award up to $1,475,000 in grants to remove derelict fishing traps throughout coastal waterways of the United States while collecting data to prevent future gear loss.

APRIL 22, 2024 — Oil spills and hazardous waste releases can close fisheries and beaches, kill wildlife, and adversely impact the coastal communities that rely on clean and productive waterways.

Three NOAA scientists smile in front of map.

APRIL 22, 2024 — NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) teamed up with the NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) and NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to participate in a tri-annual, full-scale national oil spill exercise as part of the Preparedness for Response Exercise Program (PREP). The exercise, hosted by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Sector Jacksonville in Jacksonville, Florida, was conducted on April 16-17.

A vessel half submerged in the open ocean with plumes of smoke coming out of it.

APRIL 22, 2024 — The past century of warfare and commerce has left a legacy of merchant and military shipwrecks across the world’s ocean. These wrecks pose threats from oil, munitions, and other hazardous cargo, but are also historical resources, artificial reefs, recreational dive sites, and many are war graves. An estimated 8,000 vessels were sunk in World War II alone and the major flag states, including the U.S., UK, Germany, and Japan, all have potentially polluting wrecks in their waters.

International Oil Spill Conference 2024 poster featuring a turtle swimming underwater.

APRIL 15, 2024 — In a few weeks time, spill response community professionals from around the nation and the world will gather at the 2024 International Oil Spill Conference (IOSC 2024), to be held May 13-16 in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Speaker leads presentation.

APRIL 15, 2024 — From March 8-10, finalists of the 2023-2024 Great Lakes AquaHacking Challenge and its Water Issue Leaders convened in Traverse City, Michigan for a water innovation expedition. Haley Dalian, Great Lakes Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program, within OR&R, serves as one of two Water Issue Leaders for the Microplastics topic. 

Group photo of NOAA, federal, and Texas trustees gather during the NRDA Texas summit.

APRIL 15, 2024 — From April 2-3, Texas and federal trustees met at the South Texas Ecotourism Center in Laguna Vista, Texas for the bi-annual Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Texas Trustee Summit. Trustees included members from NOAA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Interior, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Office of Attorney General, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and Texas General Land Office. 

Presenter behind a podium at the front of an auditorium.

APRIL, 15, 2024 - On March 26, OR&R’s Scientific Support and Regional Preparedness Coordinator William Whitmore shared emergency preparedness and response information during a presentation at the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando, Florida. 

Grounded low profile drug running vessel off Mona Island, PR.

APRIL 15, 2024 — On August 31, 2023, while monitoring an active hawksbill and green sea turtle nesting beach, the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (PRDNER) found and reported a 40-foot drug runner sailboat modified to operate as a semi-submersible (low profile vessel) grounded on Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

APRIL 15, 2024 — On April 8, the NOAA Marine Debris Program, within OR&R, participated in a derelict fishing gear processing day organized by Stockton University as part of their FY22/23 Inflation Reduction Act award.  Participating in the gear processing event were Stockton University researchers and staff, roughly 20 undergraduate students, several commercial crabbers, and a member of Senator Cory Booker’s staff. Marine Debris Program Deputy Director MaryLee Haughwout and Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator Katie Morgan also participated.

Yellowish waxy petroleum product on a shoreline in Corpus Christi, Texas on December 25, 2022.

APRIL 15, 2024 — On April 8, 2024, the U.S. Department of Justice proposed a settlement to restore natural resources impacted by the Flint Hills Dock #5 oil spill. Per the consent decree, the responsible party will pay $427,000 for restoration and future costs, plus $162,213 of remaining trustee assessment costs, and a $400,000 Clean Water Act civil penalty.

A community clean up at the beach.

APRIL 15, 2024 — Following a competitive review process, the NOAA Marine Debris Program and National Marine Sanctuary Foundation are pleased to announce the 12 recipients of the Ocean Odyssey Fiscal Year 2024 Marine Debris Awards for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice, and Accessibility (DEIJA).  

A view of the Lake Erie ESI atlas on NOAA’s GeoPlatform.

APRIL 8, 2024 — One of the key tools used in oil spill response, Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps and data, is now available on NOAA GeoPlatform, a cloud GIS application based on Esri’s ArcGIS Online. NOAA GeoPlatform provides access to a wide suite of trusted geospatial data, services, and applications that help support NOAA's mission.

Hurricane Idalia Satellite Imagery.

APRIL 8, 2024 — After hurricane season came to an end on November 30, 2023, OR&R’s Disaster Preparedness Program (DPP) started continuous improvement efforts to prepare for the 2024 season. Every year, OR&R leads the National Ocean Service (NOS) Incident Management Team (IMT) through a hotwash review following the season. Staff were able to express what went well, what could be improved, and record any additional lessons that were learned.

Damaged tanks at the ITC Deer Park facility on March 27, 2019 near La Porte, Texas. (Credit: USCG)

APRIL 8, 2024 — On April 2, 2024, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a proposed settlement valued at approximately $6.65 million to compensate for natural resource injuries resulting from a tank fire in Deer Park, Texas. The event involved the release of thousands of barrels of hazardous substances and oil. 

Students observing an uncrewed aircraft system taking flight as part of their training in Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Technique (SCAT). The training was hosted by U.S. Coast Guard Sector Charleston, South Carolina in March 2024. Image credit: USCG.

APRIL 8, 2024 — When oil spills into the ocean and washes up on coastal shorelines, spill response teams survey the status of the affected shorelines using a systematic method known as Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Technique (SCAT). Assessment of these shorelines generates a large amount of data, which is used to map and characterize the extent of the shoreline oiling, prioritize cleanup,  and to document the effectiveness of response measures.

APRIL 8, 2024 —NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) is busy at work to address a container spill off of the California coast. On February 7, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) contacted the NOAA Scientific Support Coordinator for California to report the loss of 24 shipping containers from the M/V President Eisenhower the prior night, approximately 64 nautical miles southwest of Monterey, California.

Members of a U.S. team from NOAA and USCG, RMI EPA Managing Director and staff, and representative of SPREP in Majuro, Marshall Islands for oil spill response planning meetings.

APRIL 8, 2024 — NOAA Scientific Support Coordinator for Oceania, Ruth Yender, joined a U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) team in meetings held in Majuro, Marshall Islands on April 1-5 with the Republic of the Marshall Islands Environmental Protection Agency (RMI EPA) to assist with oil spill response planning and preparedness. 

March 2024

A student shown writing notes on shoreline conditions on a SCAT form as part of participation in NOAA’s SCAT training.

APRIL 1, 2024 — The Emergency Response Division of NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R), provided three days of Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Technique (SCAT) training for the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Sector Charleston on March 19-21, 2024. 

Handbook for the PREP (Preparedness for Response Exercise Program) Functional Exercise held by Sector San Juan Area Contingency Plan in March 2024.

MARCH 25, 2024 — OR&R’s Brad Benggio, the NOAA Scientific Support Coordinator (SSC) assigned to the U.S. Coast Guard’s (USCG) Seventh District in Miami, Florida, recently participated in a tabletop oil spill exercise in Ponce, Puerto Rico to support emergency response training.

Instructor teaching NOAA Specific ICS 300 Class.

MARCH 25, 2024 — During the week of March 11, OR&R’s Disaster Preparedness Program (DPP) held a three-day NOAA-specific Incident Command System 300 (ICS 300) Level Training at NOAA’s Inouye Regional Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. This training was the first in-person NOAA ICS 300 class since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. During the interim, the class has been held virtually to ensure NOAA staff are trained in ICS 300.

Participants and instructors in the Science of Oil Spills (SOS) class gathered on a beach for a photo in Mobile, Alabama.

MARCH 25, 2024 — During the week of March 18, oil spill specialists from OR&R’s Emergency Response Division conducted a Science of Oil Spills (SOS) class for the Southern region in Mobile, Alabama. SOS classes aim to help spill responders increase their understanding of oil spill science when analyzing spills and making risk-based decisions. 

Timor Leste oil spill response workshop participants visit a sea turtle egg and hatchling protection facility, operated by the Timor Port, March 21, 2024.

MARCH 25, 2024 — OR&R’s Ruth Yender, the NOAA Scientific Support Coordinator for Oceania, assisted with an oil spill response workshop sponsored by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM), held in Dili, Timor-Leste from March 18–22. The workshop was intended to assist Timor-Leste agencies as they develop national level emergency response plans.