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:
On March 10, a fishing vessel reportedly capsized after taking on water two miles off the southeastern coast of Connecticut. The U.S. Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound was notified and the occupants of the All My Joy were rescued.
The vessel was floating upside down and grounded nearly a mile off Fishers Island, New York. The vessel was carrying 2,000 gallons of diesel on board at the time of the incident and a light sheen was observed. The U.S. Coast Guard oversaw removal of the remaining oil and salvage of the vessel.
On March 16, the Department of the Interior contacted NOAA regarding a diesel spill from an upland site along the Buskin River on Kodiak Island, Alaska.
Roughly 1,300 gallons of diesel reportedly leaked overnight between an upland fuel storage tank and a newly installed generator. A significant portion of oil reached the Buskin River and oil sheens were observed a half-mile out from the river’s mouth into Saint Paul Harbor. Sorbent and protective pollution boom were deployed to contain and remove some of the oil.
The Buskin River is a primary recreational and subsistence fishing waterway on Kodiak Island and young pink salmon alevin, or recently hatched salmon, are reportedly present along the banks of the river at this time of the year. No wildlife impacts have been reported at this time.
On March 17, 2019, the U.S. Coast Guard notified NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration about a tank farm fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) Deer Park facility near Houston. The Environmental Protection Agency is the federal on-scene coordinator for the incident. EPA has conducted, and continues to conduct, ground level air monitoring. Emergency responders extinguished the fires.
OR&R’s scientific support coordinator for the region has been on scene to provide support to the Unified Command that consists of the EPA, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Harris County Pollution Control Services, ITC, and U.S. Coast Guard on chemical properties, response options, and resources at risk. Other NOAA team members have provided weather, modeling, and chemistry support. OR&R is also coordinating with other state and federal agencies to assess potential impacts to natural resources.
On March 28, the U.S. Coast Guard notified NOAA that a container vessel’s hull was damaged during heavy sea conditions when a container fell from the deck — losing between 12 and 16 containers and resulting in the release of an unknown amount of #6 bunker fuel in the Arthur Kill waterway.
The crew of the Dublin Express observed an oil sheen as the vessel was docking. Areas along the shore of Elizabeth, New Jersey were impacted. The Coast Guard requested a trajectory for the release.
Shoreline cleanup and assessment technique (SCAT) teams found tar balls on the shoreline along rockaway Beach on March 31. According to a Coast Guard press release, the vessel was carrying approximately 300,000 gallons of fuel. It is unknown how much of the fuel spilled from the 15-inch hole in one of the fuel tanks.
“We’ve seen a lot of progress in the cleanup of the Arthur Kill waterway, and we continue to work with our Unified Command partners to ensure a rapid and thorough cleanup of all impacted areas,” said Capt. Jason Tama, federal on-scene coordinator, in a Coast Guard press release. “Our priorities continue to be the safety of everyone involved including the public and responders, and environmental cleanup.”
NOAA trajectories do not predict further impacts at this time. The cause of the incident remains under investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Here is the complete list of last month’s incidents, click on the links to find out more:
- Sunken Tug Mississippi River
- F/V ALL MY JOY
- PAC ATHENA Ferrosilicon Cargo, Port of Morehead City, NC
- Buskin River Diesel Spill
- ITC Tank Fire, Deer Park, TX
- Coal Washup Cape Charles, VA
- M/V La Pinta - Miami, FL
- Seattle Slew Diesel Spill Mississippi River
- CMA CGM AQUILA Adrift
- Dublin Express Oil Spill, Staten Island, New York