Incident Responses for December 2021

Posted Mon, 01/10/2022 - 13:04

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 11 incidents in December, including oil discharges, grounded vessels, and other pollution-related incidents.  
Here are some of December's notable incidents:

Sheen Spotted Near Santa Barbara, California

On the morning of Dec. 11, the U.S. Coast Guard notified NOAA of a sheen report near Platform Holly near Santa Barbara, California. A member of the public had discovered the sheen the previous day when taking photos using an uncrewed aerial system, also known as a drone. 
The sheen was believed to be coming from natural seep. The Coral Oil Point seeps are among the most active seep areas in the world, releasing an estimated 6,500-7,000 gallons of oil a day. 
Platform Holly and other nearby platforms have been shut in since the Refugio pipeline spill in 2015, and Holly is undergoing decommissioning by the State of California. Decommissioning crews reported no releases from the platform. 
During a Coast Guard overflight, responders observed a large, crescent-shaped area of sheen. The Coast Guard requested NOAA provide an oil fate and transport estimate. 

Tarballs Spotted off Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve near Santa Barbara, California 

On Dec. 22, the Coast Guard notified NOAA of a report of sheening and tarballs offshore of the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve near Santa Barbara, California. The initial overflight detected two small areas of rainbow sheen, while responders observed via vessel some tarballs among the sheen. The Coast Guard requested trajectory support. 

A Unified Command continues operations to investigate and secure the source of a potential leak in Pipeline 0919. Divers have continued assessments of the line and mitigation measures have been utilized to minimize environmental impacts. Response assets have been staged in the area as part of a proactive plan. An overflight on Jan. 4, 2022 observed a sheen on-water and cleanup/recovery is underway. Wildlife teams are surveying the beaches for potential impacts.

A dock area where a red liquid is visible in the water.
On Dec. 10, 2021 the NOAA was contacted by the Coast Guard on a red dye diesel sheen in Lake Union located near Northlake Shipyard in Seattle. The spill is suspected to have occurred early in the morning and could be about 100 Gallons. The Coast Guard requested a trajectory. Image credit: NOAA.

Here is the complete list of last month’s incidents, click on the links to find out more: