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 Dillon, 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?

Incident Responses for February 2019

Posted Tue, 03/12/2019 - 12:00

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 17 incidents, including oil discharges, sunken vessels, and hazardous material releases. Here are some of February’s notable incidents ...

Rachel Carson: Biologist, Writer, Role Model

Posted Thu, 03/07/2019 - 16:19
By Megan Ewald, Office of Response and Restoration

Remembering Rachel Carson and the books that ignited the environmental movement for Women's History Month.

March is Women's History Month, a federal celebration honoring the achievements of women’s contributions to American history. Recognizing the achievements of women creates role models for the next generation and inspires women and girls to reach their full potentials. This is particularly important in the sciences.

Spotlight on People and Pollution: Wild rice, pollution, and space for traditions to grow

Posted Tue, 03/05/2019 - 14:20
By Megan Ewald, Office of Response and Restoration

When people look out on the Great Lakes for the first time, they often compare them to the ocean. In some ways the analogy works. The five Laurentian Great Lakes are incredibly vast, when you stand on the shore of Lake Superior there’s nothing but steely blue water until the lake meets the horizon. If all you saw was a photo, you could mistake it for the ocean.

The Minds Behind OR&R: Meet Scientist Catherine Berg

Posted Thu, 02/28/2019 - 13:41
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). This month’s featured scientist is Catherine Berg, a scientific support coordinator in OR&R’s Emergency Response Division.

National Ocean Service Continues to Provide Recovery Support in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico

Posted Fri, 02/22/2019 - 12:59
By Alyson Finn, Office of Response and Restoration Disaster Preparedness Program

In December, NOAA received its second FEMA Recovery Support Mission Assignment to enable “U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) Coral Reef Emergency Response and Restoration for Sustainable Ocean Economies, Food Security, and Storm Surge Mitigation.” In the aftermath of major storm events such as the 2017 hurricane season, NOAA often holds a seat at the table during mission assignments for federal natural resource recovery. Reef systems in these territories are vital to the ecosystem, mitigating damages to coastlines from waves and storm surge.