Argo Merchant: The Birth of Modern Oil Spill Response

Posted Wed, 12/14/2016 - 13:56

When the Argo Merchant ran aground on Nantucket Shoals off Massachusetts early on Dec. 15, 1976, and spilled nearly 8 million gallons of heavy fuel oil, it became the worst marine oil spill the United States had seen. It also led to the eventual creation of the Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R).

In 1974, as work began on the Alaska pipeline, NOAA scientists and academics realized there were important unanswered questions about oil spills.

Argo Merchant: The Growth of Scientific Support

Posted Tue, 12/13/2016 - 13:59

Disasters often spark major changes. The sinking of the Titanic led to increased international requirements for lifesaving equipment, and the Exxon Valdez led to double-hull tankers and a host of other safety improvements. The 1976 grounding of the Argo Merchant led to the creation of the Scientific Support Coordinator (SSC) program that today is the backbone of the marine spill response.

Emergency Response and Assessment 40 Years after Argo Merchant

Posted Mon, 12/12/2016 - 14:02
By Robin Garcia

On Dec. 15, 1976, the tanker Argo Merchant ran aground off the coast of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. Despite attempts to refloat the tanker, the Argo Merchant split in half in strong winds and high waves, spilling more than 7.5 million gallons of oil. It was the largest oil spill in United States history at the time.

Updated Environmental Sensitivity Index Maps and Data for Some Atlantic States

Posted Tue, 12/06/2016 - 14:05

One of the challenges in any oil spill is the ability for spill responders to quickly evaluate protection priorities appropriate to the shoreline, habitats, and wildlife found in the area of the spill. Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps and data developed by NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) provide spill responders with a concise summary of coastal resources that are at risk if an oil spill occurs nearby. Additionally, ESI maps can be used by planners—before a spill happens—to identify vulnerable locations, establish protection priorities, and identify cleanup strategies.

Preserving Natural Resources for All Americans

Posted Thu, 11/17/2016 - 14:17
By Robin Garcia

NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) works with federal, state, and local agencies to prepare for, respond to, and assess the risks to natural resources following oil spills and hazardous waste releases. Often, OR&R also collaborates with Native American tribes to ensure that response, assessment, and restoration efforts fully address the needs of all communities.

Transportation of Crude Oil Along the West Coast

Posted Thu, 11/03/2016 - 14:31
By Sarah Brace

The Pacific States/B.C. Oil Spill Task Force has updated its West Coast crude oil transport map. The map depicts the routes of crude traveling by rail, tanker vessel, pipeline and barge across the western states and British Columbia. It also captures the locations of current and proposed facilities, refineries and terminals. The rapid growth in crude by rail transport has highlighted response and preparedness gaps along the rail line.

Keeping the Great Lakes’ Freshwater Clean is a Tall Order

Posted Tue, 11/01/2016 - 14:35

North America’s Great Lakes contain 6 quadrillion gallons of freshwater within the five lakes of Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario. With roughly 20 percent of the world’s surface freshwater, the Great Lakes are the world’s largest freshwater system, and contain enough water to cover the entire lower 48 states to a depth of almost 10 feet.