By Donna L. Roberts, 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). In our latest "Minds Behind OR&R," we feature oceanographer Dylan Righi.
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.
By Jennifer Simms, Office of Response and Restoration Marine Debris Program
This blog is part of a three-week long campaign celebrating the 30 year anniversary of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. While oil spills and marine debris are hardly synonymous, when it comes to abandoned and derelict vessels, the two worlds often meet. In this blog, learn more about how OR&R's Marine Debris program helps keep our nation's coasts clean from threats of oil pollution.
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990: A History of Spills and Legislation
By Gary Shigenaka, Office of Response and Restoration
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In the U.S., it has been a fact of life that major news events influence the political course of the country. Occurrences large and small can stir the notoriously short and fickle attention span of the public, and in turn, the political machinery that generally responds to what the voters believe to be issues of importance. Oil spills may sometimes rise to that level, depending on their size and complexity.
When many of us think of oil spills, we might think of an oil tanker running aground and spilling its contents into the ocean, as in the case of the oil tanker Exxon Valdez when the ship ran aground near the coast of Alaska in 1989.
After oil spills into the ocean, NOAA studies the impacts to animals and plants, but we also make sure to measure the direct impacts to people's use of nature. This is all part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process, which makes up for those impacts. Humans can value environmental quality just for its existence (think of remote mountains and pristine beaches)
Imagine yourself preparing for your next trip to the beach. The sun is shining and you drive with excitement to your favorite spot on the coast. But when you arrive, instead of being welcomed by clean sand and blue ocean waves, you see a thick black sludge washing over both beach and birds. What happened?
By Megan Ewald and Simeon Hahn, Office of Response and Restoration Assessment and Restoration Division
If you ever wondered how oyster reefs are built, it involves a team of dedicated experts and a water cannon. Over the last month, barges have blasted 100,000 bushels of small fossilized oyster shells, called oyster hash, into the Eastern Branch of Virginia’s Elizabeth River. Oyster hash is normally shipped abroad for use as chicken feed, but now it’s laying the foundation for a restoration project that will help the river recover from pollution.
Whenever oil is transported there is a risk of accidents and spills, but the 40 years since the Argo Merchant oil spill have seen improvements in laws, shipping technology and spill response.
Tankers today are much safer, but they are also much larger. The Argo Merchant was carrying about 8 million gallons of oil, while modern tankers can carry 10 times that amount. A large spill is a rare event, but the impacts are still potentially catastrophic.
By Doug Helton, Office of Response and Restoration Emergency Response Division
On Aug. 18, 1990, President H.W. Bush signed the Oil Pollution Act. The act gave NOAA and other agencies improved authorities for spill prevention, response, and restoration in the nation’s navigable waters and shorelines.