Incident Responses for June 2021

Posted Fri, 07/09/2021 - 16:11
A satellite image of a vessel in water.
NOAA satellite image of the MV X-Press Pearl. On May 20, 2021, The X-Press Pearl caught fire and after 12 days sank off the coast of Sri Lanka.  All of the containers were lost or damaged. Read more on our blog. Image credit: NOAA.

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 15 incidents in June, including oil discharges, grounded vessels, and other pollution-related incidents.  

Here are some of June's notable incidents:

Pipeline Leaks 445 Gallons of Oil Off the Coast of Texas

On June 14, 2021, a sheen from an unknown source in West Cameron Block 551 off the coast of Texas was reported during a flyover. 

Stingray Pipeline, the potential responsible party, reportedly described the product as "condensate.” On June 15, the U.S. Coast Guard contacted NOAA for advice regarding what a condensate might look like, and the potential for recoverable oil. The NOAA scientific support coordinator for the region contacted the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service to monitor the area via satellite imagery. 

The source was discovered to be a pipeline leak. As of July 1, responders were continuing work to contain the leak and approximately 445 gallons of oil had been discharged at that time. 

Abandoned Tanks Leak Tar at Simmonds Hill Near Utqiagvik, Alaska 

On June 22, the U.S. Coast Guard reported receiving photos of abandoned tanks leaking a tar-like substance on a beach at Simmonds Hill near Utqiagvik, Alaska. The tanks appeared to be eroding from a man-made beach berm structure on the Beaufort Sea coast.

The Coast Guard asked NOAA to provide information regarding potential impacts from the release. The site continues to erode and additional oil is observed where the sand is eroding below the water line. Responders plugged the tank, though the tanks continue to ooze or leak. Response operations are still ongoing.

Wapiti Tank Spill in Mud Lake, Louisiana

On June 29, approximately 5 barrels (210 gallons) of oil reportedly discharged from a marine transfer facility into the waterway known as Spoon Bill Bay in Mud Lake, Louisiana. A tank reportedly overfilled and a rainwater drain plug failed on secondary containment, allowing the estimated volume to discharge into the waterway.

Responders placed containment boom around the canal, and active skimming and manual recovery efforts continue to remove recoverable product from the area. 

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