Posts tagged with

oil spill

How Do We Measure What We Lose When an Oil Spill Harms Nature?

Posted Thu, 08/13/2020 - 13:20

After oil spills into the ocean, NOAA studies the impacts to animals and plants, but we also make sure to measure the direct impacts to people's use of nature. This is all part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process, which makes up for those impacts. Humans can value environmental quality just for its existence (think of remote mountains and pristine beaches)

Thanks, Oil Pollution Act: 30 Years of Enabling Environmental Restoration After Oil Spills

Posted Wed, 08/12/2020 - 13:47

Imagine yourself preparing for your next trip to the beach. The sun is shining and you drive with excitement to your favorite spot on the coast. But when you arrive, instead of being welcomed by clean sand and blue ocean waves, you see a thick black sludge washing over both beach and birds. What happened?

Argo Merchant: What if It Happened Today?

Posted Tue, 08/11/2020 - 10:41

Whenever oil is transported there is a risk of accidents and spills, but the 40 years since the Argo Merchant oil spill have seen improvements in laws, shipping technology and spill response.

Tankers today are much safer, but they are also much larger. The Argo Merchant was carrying about 8 million gallons of oil, while modern tankers can carry 10 times that amount. A large spill is a rare event, but the impacts are still potentially catastrophic.

Who Pays for Oil Spills?

Posted Fri, 08/07/2020 - 08:00

After every major oil spill, one question comes up again and again: Who is going to pay for this mess? While the American public and the environment pay the ultimate price (metaphorically speaking), the polluter most often foots the bill for cleanup, response, and restoration after oil spills. In sum: You break it, you buy it.

In Some Situations, Ships Dump Oil on Purpose

Posted Thu, 07/09/2020 - 14:41

We generally think of oil being accidentally spilled, but there are situations when oil might be intentionally spilled.

Historically, ships at sea have sometimes intentionally dumped some of their cargo to save the ship and perhaps prevent a complete loss. However, this is a thorny area of maritime and environmental law, made even more complex by the engineering stresses on a foundering vessel and the political dynamics underlying a decision to intentionally dump oil.

Incident Responses for June 2020

Posted Thu, 07/09/2020 - 14:39

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 20 incidents, including oil discharges, sunken vessels, and other pollution-related incidents.  

Clean up spilled oil at all costs? Not always alyssa.dillon Fri, 06/26/2020 - 03:57

This week, NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration is looking at some common myths and misconceptions surrounding oil spills, chemical releases, and marine debris.

The images of an oil spill—brown water, blackened beaches, wildlife slicked and sticky—can create such an emotional response that it  leads to the myth that oil is so hazardous it’s worth any and all environmental trade-offs to get it cleaned up.

How to Test for Toxicity
By Alan Mearns
alyssa.dillon Fri, 06/19/2020 - 07:11

What is toxicity? Most definitions would explain it as the degree to which a substance is poisonous.

Knowing a substance’s toxic levels is particularly important to federal agencies that use the information to test potential risks posed to people’s health and to the environment.

So how do scientists know how toxic something is and whether or not that substance—be it oil, chemical treating agents or toxic metals—will be toxic when introduced into marine or coastal waters?

On Sea Turtles, Seaweed, and Oil Spills

Posted Tue, 06/16/2020 - 12:22

The young loggerhead sea turtle, its ridged shell only a few inches across, perches calmly among a floating island of brown seaweed called sargassum. Suddenly, a shadow passes overhead. A hungry seabird? Taking no chances, the small sea turtle dips beneath the ocean surface. It dives through the sargassum's tangle of branches and bladders filled with air, which keep everything afloat. Open ocean stretches for miles around the free-floating sargassum mats — which provide critical refuge to juvenile sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico — as they drift slowly with the currents. Unfortunately, these currents can just as easily push floating oil. This puts sargassum and all the creatures it supports in the path of oil spills.