Incident Responses for July 2021

Posted Wed, 08/04/2021 - 20:12

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 22 incidents in July, including oil discharges, grounded vessels, and other pollution-related incidents.  

Here are some of July's notable incidents:

Oil Flowline Leaks 4 Barrels of Oil near New Orleans, In Situ Burn to Clean Up

On July 11, a TPIC oil flowline near New Orleans reportedly discharged 3 to 4 barrels (126-168 gallons) of crude oil in Plaquemines Parish. The Coast Guard and the state worked together on an in-situ burn on a potential response method for the incident. NOAA worked closely with the Coast Guard on the burn. 

In-situ burn operations were successfully completed on July 14. Fires were contained to the approved burn site and extinguished when operations were secured. TPIC SP-24 facility staff maintained watch of the site to ensure no re-flare. The bulk of visible product appeared to have burned off successfully with little remaining after the flames were extinguished.

Sinking Pleasure Craft Near Seal Beach, California

On July 15, the U.S. Coast Guard contacted NOAA regarding a partially sunken and drifting pleasure craft roughly a mile off Seal Beach, California. The Godfather was reportedly carrying 500 gallons of diesel at the time, though no sheening was observed. 

The Coast Guard requested trajectory support in the event of a spill. The vessel and debris was recovered later in the month. 

Mesa Gulf Cement Barge Release in Bayou Hermitage, New Orleans

On July 22, a cement barge was reportedly discharging oil near New Orleans. An estimated 2,000 gallons of an unknown chemical was one the barge, and approximately 1,500 to 2,000 barrels (63,000 to 84,000 gallons) of crude oil was in the leaking storage container. Responders placed pollution boom around the site to prevent further impacts. The Coast Guard requested NOAA provide information on the resources at risk.

The facility had been abandoned since Hurricane Zeta in 2020. NOAA scientific support coordinators accompanied the Coast Guard to the site, where they identified three cement storage barges and over 50 orphaned containers. Many orphaned drums and totes are in poor condition and without labels. 

Oil staining on marsh grasses is evident around the facility, though a thorough investigation into the impacts to the marsh has not yet occurred. Clean up operations remain underway. 

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