Restoration on the Way for New Jersey’s Raritan River, Long Polluted by Industrial Waste

Posted Thu, 05/05/2016 - 19:14

Update: Oct, 20, 2016—Restoration for the Raritan River moved one step closer with the U.S. Department of Justice’s announcement of a settlement for the American Cyanamid Superfund Site. Details can be found here.

Following years of intensive cleanup and assessment at the American Cyanamid Superfund Site, NOAA and our partners are now accepting public comment on a draft restoration plan and environmental assessment [PDF] for this northern New Jersey site.

Using a NOAA Tool to Evaluate Toxic Doses of Pollution at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation

Posted Wed, 04/13/2016 - 18:27
This is a post by Troy Baker, an environmental scientist in NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration.

Chromium, manganese, zinc.

Elements like these may show up in a daily multivitamin, but when found in a certain form and concentration in water and soil, these elements can cause serious problems for fish, birds, and wildlife. As assessors of environmental harm from pollution, we see this scenario being played out at hazardous waste sites around the country.

After Pollution Strikes, Restoring the Lost Cultural Bond Between Tribes and the Environment

Posted Wed, 04/06/2016 - 18:44

When I’ve heard residents of the Alaskan Arctic speak about the potential impacts of an oil spill, I don’t hear any lines of separation between the oil spill causing injury to the environment and injury to the community.

Their discussions about the potential harm to walrus or seals inevitably include how this will impact the community’s ability to hunt for food, which affects both their food security and traditions. The cultures of these communities are inextricably tied to the land and sea.

Alaska Updates Plan for Using Dispersants During Oil Spills

Posted Thu, 01/28/2016 - 18:54

While the best way to deal with oil spills in the ocean is to prevent them in the first place, when they do happen, we need to be ready. Cleanup is difficult, and there are no magic remedies to remove all the oil. Most big oil spills require a combination of cleanup tools.

This week the Alaska Regional Response Team, an advisory council for oil spill responses in Alaska, has adopted a revised plan for one of the most controversial tools in the toolbox: Chemical dispersants.

It Took More Than the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill to Pass the Historic Oil Pollution Act of 1990

Posted Tue, 08/18/2015 - 18:17

AUGUST 18, 2015 — If you, like many, believe oil shouldn't just be spilled without consequence into the ocean, then you, like us, should be grateful for a very important U.S. law known as the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. Congress passed this legislation and President George H.W. Bush signed it into law 25 years ago on August 18, 1990, which was the summer after the tanker Exxon Valdez hit ground in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

Why Are Seabirds so Vulnerable to Oil Spills?

Posted Tue, 01/13/2015 - 14:36

Out of the squawking thousands of black and white birds crowding the cliff, a single male sidled up to the rocky edge. After arranging a few out-of-place feathers with his sleek beak, the bird plunged like a bullet into the ocean below. These penguin look-alikes (no relation) are Common Murres. Found along the U.S. coast from Alaska to California, this abundant species of seabird dives underwater, using its wings to pursue a seafood dinner, namely small fish.

Why You Should Thank a Hydrographer

Posted Fri, 06/21/2013 - 14:05

World Hydrography Day is celebrated each year on June 21. But before we start thanking hydrographers, we first should explain: What is a hydrographer?

Basically, a hydrographer measures and documents the shape and features of the ocean floor and coasts. These scientists then create charts showing the ocean’s varying depths and the location of underwater obstructions, such as rocky outcroppings or shipwrecks. As our fellow NOAA colleagues at the Office of Coast Survey (an office full of hydrographers) further elaborate, “hydrographic surveying ‘looks’ into the ocean to see what the sea floor looks like,” with most of the work “primarily concerned with water depth.”

Waking up to our Relationship with Oil

Posted Thu, 07/12/2012 - 14:31
By Vicki Loe, Office of Response and Restoration

JULY 17, 2012 — When I think about oil consumption, I immediately think of gasoline and how much I drive. And I often feel pretty good about it because I drive a relatively fuel-efficient car. But oil is part of plenty of other products in our lives too. Seattle, the city in which I live, recently has banned plastic bags, which are made from oil, and also prohibits restaurants and grocery stores from using Styrofoam (oil-based) containers for take-out food.