The True Cost of an Oil Spill: Q&A with a NOAA Economist

Posted Thu, 08/06/2020 - 04:12

Before the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 that followed shortly after, the Deepwater Port Act of 1974 (DWPA) provided guidance for deepwater port structures used for the import and export of oil and natural gas, including conditions to minimize adverse environmental impacts.

This new law resulted in NOAA’s Deepwater Ports Project Office — an early predecessor to NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration and the start of OR&R Senior Economist Norman Meade’s 43 year career with NOAA.

An Oil Spill’s Silver Lining, Over Three Decades After Exxon Valdez

Posted Tue, 08/04/2020 - 04:58
By Megan Ewald, Office of Response and Restoration

When an oil spill happens, whoever is responsible pays for the cleanup and restoration.

But this has not always been the case. Thirty years ago, on March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez grounded on Bligh Reef, rupturing its hull and spilling almost 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound.

It was an unprecedented disaster, and at the time there was no comprehensive federal legislation to determine the scope of liability for costs of cleanup and restoration.

The Dangers of Storm Surge and Flooding

Posted Fri, 07/31/2020 - 16:40
By Charlie Henry, Office of Response and Restoration Disaster Preparedness Program

A long time ago, I stood beside my grandfather outside of his house, looking toward the southeast at a very dark sky. We were 200 miles from where Hurricane Camille was making landfall in Mississippi—the second-most intense Atlantic tropical cyclone on record. 

How to Reduce Your Oil Consumption, Without Ditching Your Car

Posted Fri, 07/24/2020 - 06:11
By Alyssa Gray, Office of Response and Restoration

At NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration, we respond to oil spills both big and small — from the millions of barrels of oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, to spills of a few barrels released from minor vessel accidents that happen every month. But oil is entering America’s coasts and waterways on a daily basis through another means of pollution — oil runoff.

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Lightning Safety Awareness: A Threat to Lives and Infrastructure 

Posted Tue, 07/14/2020 - 23:08
By Savannah Turner,  NOAA Office of Response and Restoration

While warmer weather motivates us to spend more time outdoors, it also gives rise to ideal atmospheric conditions that generate thunderstorms and lightning. So, even though the 2020 hurricane season remains in the forefront, the Disaster Preparedness Program also encourages you to remain cognizant of additional seasonal hazards, such as lightning. 

In Some Situations, Ships Dump Oil on Purpose

Posted Thu, 07/09/2020 - 14:41

We generally think of oil being accidentally spilled, but there are situations when oil might be intentionally spilled.

Historically, ships at sea have sometimes intentionally dumped some of their cargo to save the ship and perhaps prevent a complete loss. However, this is a thorny area of maritime and environmental law, made even more complex by the engineering stresses on a foundering vessel and the political dynamics underlying a decision to intentionally dump oil.