Putting the 'PREP' in Preparedness: An Exercise to Improve Oil Spill Response in Alaska

Posted Thu, 04/18/2019 - 15:07
By Catherine Berg, Office of Response and Restoration

Spill response exercises and frequent training opportunities are integral to the overall preparedness efforts for OR&R, NOAA, and our partners in both industry and the government. Some exercises are even required by law to ensure all parties are prepared for an oil spill. All vessels over 400 gross tons — which includes almost all ocean-going vessels and large fishing vessels — are required to have a vessel response plan. Per the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, vessels are also required to meet federal oil pollution response exercise requirements.

Happy National Siblings Day from NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration

Posted Wed, 04/10/2019 - 12:27
By Megan Ewald, Office of Response and Restoration

It’s time to snuggle up with your littermate and let them know how much you love them - April 10 is National Siblings Day! It’s a time to celebrate those who have known you since before you were hatched. Nobody understands you better than your siblings.

Here at NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration we’d like to celebrate two siblings in particular: Response and her sister Restoration. These siblings work together to respond to pollution disasters and guide clean up, and restore the environment after the event.

Incident Responses for March 2019 alyssa.dillon Thu, 04/04/2019 - 15:11

Every month our Emergency Response Division provides scientific expertise and services to the U.S. Coast Guard on everything from running oil spill trajectories to model where the spill may spread, to possible effects on wildlife and fisheries, and estimates on how long the oil may stay in the environment.

This month OR&R responded to 10 incidents, including oil discharges, sunken vessels, and hazardous material releases. Here are some of March’s notable incidents ...

Beneath the Surface: Oil Spills and Mental Health

Posted Tue, 03/26/2019 - 17:48
Alyssa Gray, Office of Response and Restoration

Oil spills can impact the environment and the communities in it in a variety of ways — from the deaths of the marine animals and wildlife that come in contact with the oil or polluted plants and water, to the physical damage seen throughout entire ecosystems. But not all impacts are visible with the naked eye. Some lie lurking beneath the surface and may not be apparent until months or even years later. Some of these impacts reside, not in an ecosystem or a body of water, but in the minds of the people closest to the incident. One of the impacts pollution has on people, is on their mental health.

Minds Behind OR&R: Meet Environmental Economist Jason Murray

Posted Tue, 03/26/2019 - 12:57
By Megan Ewald, Office of Response and Restoration

This feature is part of a monthly series profiling scientists and technicians who provide exemplary contributions to the mission of NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R). This month’s featured scientist is Jason Murray, an environmental economist in OR&R’s Assessment and Restoration Division.

An Oil Spill’s Silver Lining, 30 Years Since Exxon Valdez

Posted Thu, 03/21/2019 - 16:58
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.

People and Pollution: The Social Impacts Oil Spills Have at a Community Level

Posted Tue, 03/19/2019 - 20:34
By Alyssa Gray, Office of Response and Restoration

Oil spills can damage the environment and the wildlife and marine life that depend on it. They can also cause physical, mental, and financial stress to people as individuals. But even at a larger social level, like a community, oil spills can threaten the order of things.

In a recent Sea Grant workshop, as part of the series “Regional priority setting for health, social, and economic disruption from spills,” community members, emergency responders, and researchers gathered to discuss the physical, mental, social, economic, cultural, and spiritual impacts from oil spills.

Plastic, Pollution, and Human Health

Posted Tue, 03/12/2019 - 17:38
By Alexis Thorbecke, Office of Response and Restoration Marine Debris Program

Marine debris comes in all shapes and size, from large abandoned vessels and nets weighing multiple tons, down to tiny fibers from a cigarette butt. Some of the tiniest debris may be causing some big problems. Microplastics, or plastic pieces less than 5mm in size, are persistent and pervasive. Clothing and fishing nets can shed microfibers, which can be a type a microplastic. Cosmetics can contain tiny plastic beads that get washed down our drains and into our waterways. Large pieces of plastic can be beaten by the sun and waves until they fragment into a collection of microplastics. But, what happens when these miniscule microplastics end up in our bodies?