Oil Spill


Recreational anglers fish off a boat in the Brandywine River. Credit TCDavis.

Athos Oil Spill Trustees Approve Delaware Boat Ramp Project

NOAA and natural resource Trustees in the M/T Athos I oil spill case released a Final Amendment to the Final Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment (PDF, 12 pages) to move forward with changes to a previously approved project.

Oil lines the shore  on Refugio Beach after a 2015 oil spill, Santa Barbara, CA

Refugio Beach Oil Spill Trustees Release a Draft Assessment and Restoration Plan for Public Comment

NOAA, and the state and federal Trustees working on restoring habitat and resources impacted by the Refugio Beach oil spill near Santa Barbara, have released a draft Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment (PDF, 173 pages) for public comment. 

Two cleanup workers in white protective gear and yellow boots stand next to oiled rocks and ocean in background.

$22.3 Million Proposed to Restore Natural Resources Injured by Refugio Beach Oil Spill

March 13, 2020 - Today the Department of Justice announced filing for public comment of a consent decree proposing a $22.3 million settlement to restore natural resources injured by the Refugio Beach oil spill near Santa Barbara, California in 2015. 

A barge floats next to an oil boom protecting waters and shoreline from spreading oil.

Final Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan Released for the Tug Powhatan Oil Spill in Alaska

In January 2020, natural resource trustees for the Tug Powhatan oil spill case in Sitka, Alaska released a Final Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for the public. The plan includes projects that aim to improve local environments and recreational opportunities impacted by the oil spill. 

The barge Salvation, the KP-2 deck barge, and two tugs tied up at Samson’s dock. The Alaskan Salvor located inside the containment boom around the tug Powhatan. (Photo provided by Samson Tug & Barge; June 4, 2017)

Public Invited to Comment on Draft Restoration Plan for Oil Spill in Sitka, Alaska

NOAA is inviting the public to comment on a draft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for projects in Sitka, Alaska. 

The plan aims to compensate the public for the Tug Powhatan oil spill, where the tugboat sank from its dock in Starrigavan Bay resulting in damages to natural resources. 

Dark oil photographed during a Coast Guard overflight on May 12, 2016.

Shell Green Canyon Settlement: $3.65 million for Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico

$3.625 million dollars can do a lot to restore environments impacted by pollution. In Sept. 2018 the Department of Justice finalized a Consent Decree to settle claims relating to the Shell Green Canyon oil spill.  Those funds will go towards implementing restoration projects in the Gulf of Mexico and coastal Louisiana. 

Two excavator machines work on building a shoreline project. A barge holding materials is in the water offshore.

Draft Amendment to Chalk Point Restoration Plan Released for Public Comment

NOAA and co-Trustees restoring resources damaged from a 2000 oil spill at Chalk Point in Maryland have released a Draft Amendment to the 2002 Restoration Plan for public comment.

Dark oil photographed during a Coast Guard overflight on May 12, 2016.

U.S. Department of Justice seeks comment on a proposed settlement for natural resource damages at Shell Green Canyon in the Gulf of Mexico

The U.S. Department of Justice lodged a proposed Consent Decree in federal district court on July 5, 2018, to settle claims of the Trustees (NOAA, U.S. Department of the Interior, and the State of Louisiana) for injuries to natural resources from a 2016 spill releasing an estimated 1,926 barrels of oil from the Shell Green Canyon Block 248 oil production system in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sarah Allen assesses injuries to natural resources from her post in Alaska.

Meet Toxicologist Sarah Allan from Alaska

This is an excerpt from 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 profile is on Assessment and Restoration Division toxicologist and Alaska Regional Resource Coordinator, Sarah Allan.

Kelp forests like this one of of Catalina Island provide shelter and food for fish and invertebrate species.

NOAA Announces Partnership to Restore Habitats Damaged by Oil and Hazardous Waste

NOAA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation are joining forces to restore habitat damaged from oil spills and hazardous waste releases in California. An initial cooperative agreement between the two organizations includes a recommendation of $1.5 million for restoration with potential for additional funding to support similar projects in other regions over the five-year time period.

Aerial photo of the Mississippi coast with a living shoreline project that includes natural and artificial breakwater material and marsh creation to reduce shoreline erosion.

Gulf Spill Restoration: Two Years After Settlement

It’s been two years since the Deepwater Horizon Trustees settled with BP and began implementing our programmatic plan to restore the Gulf.

Deepwater Horizon Trustee staff in boats and on marsh shorelines look at oil on the water's surface.

Deepwater Horizon: Louisiana Trustees Finalize Barataria Strategic Restoration Plan

The Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group approved and released its Final Strategic Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment #3: Restoration of Wetlands, Coastal and Nearshore Habitats in the Barataria Basin, Louisiana (PDF 167 pg).

Participants celebrate the re-opening of Jeff Friend Trail at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Gulf Shores, Alabama (photo U.S. Dept. of Interior)

Trail Reopening Event Highlights Significance of Ecotourism in Gulf

In January, the Jeff Friend Trail at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Gulf Shores, Alabama, was re-opened after closing for restoration last fall. The project includes new longer-lasting composite material boardwalks, several new viewing platforms, and easier-to-navigate trail materials.

Case Pages:

Oil can be seen rising to the surface at the origin of the slick emanating from the Taylor MC20 site. Credit: NOAA

Taylor Energy

Oil Spill | Gulf of Mexico off Mississippi River Delta | September 2004

What Happened?

In September of 2004, Taylor Energy’s MC20 oil production platform collapsed and sank in a mudslide during or after Hurricane Ivan. Parts of the platform and piping were buried under the sediments.

The platform was located in the Gulf of Mexico, thirteen miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River.  More than a decade later, crude oil continues to discharge from the well site and surface on the Gulf waters.

What Were the Impacts?

Oil sheen, containment boom, and deflection boom in Starrigavan Bay on April 23, 2017. (Photo provided by the US Coast Guard)

Tug Powhatan

Oil Spill | Sitka, Alaska | April 19, 2017

What Happened?

On April 19, 2017 an out of service tugboat, the Tug Powhatan, owned by Samson Tug & Barge, sank for unknown reasons from its dock in Starrigavan Bay near Sitka, Alaska. After sinking, the tug slid downslope and came to rest approximately 320 yards offshore in 160-180 feet of water.

Dark oil photographed during a Coast Guard overflight on May 12, 2016.

Shell Green Canyon 248

On May 11, 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard responded to a crude oil spill discharged from a Shell Offshore, Inc. wellhead flow line in the Green Canyon Block 248 subsea oil production system. This system is located approximately 97 miles off south of Timbalier Island, Louisiana. The oil leaked from a piping system used to transport oil from a production well on the seafloor. Shell reported to DOI’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement that the incident resulted in an estimated discharge of 1,926 barrels of oil, or 80,892 gallons, into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

 Pre-Construction at Noisette Creek. This former Naval Base golf course abuts Noisette Creek, off the Cooper River in Charleston South Carolina.

Cooper River/ MV Everreach

On September 30, 2002, the container ship M/V Everreach spilled approximately 12,500 gallons of oil into the waters of the Cooper River in Charleston, South Carolina.

First responders set out oil sorbent pads and boom on Prall’s Island in the days following the spill.

Exxon Bayway

Oil Spill | Linden, New Jersey | January 1990


What Happened?

On January 1 and 2, 1990, #2 fuel oil spilled from the Exxon Bayway facility’s underwater pipeline in Linden, New Jersey. Approximately 567,000 gallons were released directly into the Arthur Kill, a saltwater channel between New Jersey and Staten Island.

Overflight photo of shoreline sheening and recovery operations.

Citgo Refinery - Calcasieu River

Oil Spill | Calcasieu River, LA | June 2006


What Happened?

On June 19, 2006, over 99,000 barrels of waste oil and millions of gallons of untreated oily wastewater overflowed from storage tanks and discharged into a containment area in CITGO’s Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex. An estimated 54,000 barrels of waste oil and an undetermined amount of oily wastewater flowed out of the containment area and into the Indian Marais, the Calcasieu River, and adjoining waterways in the Calcasieu Estuary.

After the Chalk Point oil spill in Maryland in 2000, a NOAA scientist samples sediment to determine the impact on bottom-dwelling creatures.

Chalk Point

Oil Spill | Patuxent River, Maryland | April 2000


What Happened?

On April 7, 2000, a 12-inch oil pipeline ruptured underground at the Pepco Chalk Point electric generating facility in Aquasco, Maryland. Approximately 140,000 gallons of oil spilled into Swanson Creek, a small tributary of the Patuxent River. The oil moved over containment booms, ultimately affecting approximately 40 linear miles of environmentally sensitive downstream creeks and shorelines along the Patuxent River.


Two days after the spill occurred, oil had spread nearly 100 miles downriver, and carried into forested batture habitat making oil recovery and cleanup difficult.

Fuel Barge DM932

Oil Spill | Jefferson Parish, LA | July 2008


What Happened?

On July 23, 2008, the chemical tanker Tintomara collided with fuel barge DM932 on the Mississippi River, near downtown New Orleans. The Tintomara suffered minor damage, but the DM932 barge split into two sections. Within hours of the spill, NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) was on-scene, providing support for the cleanup and assessment of natural resource damages caused by the 270,000 gallons of spilled fuel oil.

The San Miguel Natural Reserve was acquired with settlement funds to compensate the public for lost recreational use of the beaches impacted by the spill.

Barge Berman

Oil Spill | San Juan, PR | January 7, 1994


What Happened?

On January 7, 1994, the T/B Morris J. Berman—a 302-foot-long barge loaded with 1.5 million gallons of fuel oilbroke away from its tow line and drifted around near San Juan, Puerto Rico. The barge grounded on a nearby coral reef, rupturing seven fuel holding tanks and released approximately 800,000 gallons of fuel oil into nearshore waters.


In 1996, the tank barge North Cape and the tugboat Sandia grounded off the coast of Rhode Island resulting the worst oil spill in the state's history.

North Cape

Oil Spill | Block Island Sound, RI | January 1996


What Happened?

On January 19, 1996, the tank barge, North Cape, and the tugboat, Scandia, grounded off Moonstone Beach in southwestern Rhode Island, spilling an estimated 828,000 gallons of home heating oil. This spill was the worst in Rhode Island history, with oil spreading throughout a broad area of Block Island Sound and beyond, including shoreline of the Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge (NWR).

View of the Penobscot River looking just north of the site from the southeast side of the river.

Gulf-Chevron Terminal Facility

Oil Spill | Hampden, Maine |


Wild horses drinking at a stream in Oregon. (Bureau of Land Management)

Beaver Creek

Fuel Spill | Warm Springs Reservation, Oregon | March 1999


What Happened?

On March 4, 1999, an American Transport, Inc. tanker truck jackknifed on State Route 26. The truck spilled 5,388 gallons of unleaded gasoline onto the reservation of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon. Most of the spilled fuel flowed overland into Beaver Butte Creek just above its confluence with Beaver Creek, a tributary to the Warm Springs River.

The vessel broke in two, releasing about 350,000 of petroleum fuel and marine diesel.

M/V Selendang Ayu

Oil Spill | Unalaska, Alaska | December 8, 2004

A Coast Guard response boat patrolled the Kirby Barge 27706 during cleanup efforts near Texas City Dike on March 23, 2014. (USCG)

Texas City Y

Oil Spill | Galveston Bay, TX | March 22, 2014


What Happened?

On March 22, 2014, the 585 foot bulk carrier M/V Summer Wind collided with the oil tank-barge Kirby 27706 in Galveston Bay near Texas City, Texas. The barge spilled approximately 168,000 gallons of intermediate fuel oil into lower Galveston Bay and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico. The majority of the discharged oil stranded on shorelines between Galveston and Matagorda Islands.

Scientists assess impacts to mussel shells from response-related boat traffic.

Enbridge Pipeline Release

Oil Spill | Marshall, MI | July 25, 2010

Oil on the beach at Refugio State Park in Santa Barbara, California, on May 19, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard)

Refugio Beach Oil Spill

Oil Spill | Santa Barbara County, California | May 2015

On May 19, 2015, a pipeline owned and operated by Plains All America Pipeline ruptured near Refugio State Beach. Over 100,000 gallons of crude oil were spilled, much of which ran down a storm drain and into a ravine under the freeway, entering the ocean.

Deepwater Horizon explosion.

Deepwater Horizon

Oil Spill | Gulf of Mexico | April 2010

On April 20, 2010, an explosion occurred on the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion, which killed 11 men, caused the rig to sink and started a catastrophic oil leak from the well. Before it was capped three months later, approximately 134 million gallons of oil had spilled into the Gulf, the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Disabled Tank Barge DBL 152 vessel before capsizing showing discharge of oil.

Tank Barge DBL 152

Oil Spill | Gulf of Mexico | November 2005


What Happened?

On November 11, 2005, Tank Barge DBL 152 struck a collapsed pipeline service platform in the Gulf of Mexico. The barge spilled an estimated 1.9 million gallons of a heavy oil mixture. Most of the oil was denser than seawater, causing it to sink to the bottom of the Gulf. 

Cleanup workers collect oiled debris from sand beach, South Dartmouth, MA.

Bouchard Barge 120

On April 27, 2003, the tank barge Bouchard 120 hit a bedrock ledge in Buzzards Bay. The impact created a 12-foot rupture in the barge’s hull. An estimated 98,000 gallons of oil spilled into the coastal waters of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Athos I lists to starboard the day after the spill began.

M/T Athos I

On November 26, 2004, the M/T Athos I hit several submerged objects in the Delaware River while preparing to dock at a refinery in Paulsboro, New Jersey. A nine-ton anchor punctured the vessel’s bottom, releasing nearly 265,000 gallons of crude oil into the Delaware River and nearby tributaries.

Large woody debris in restored tributary to Whatcom Creek provides habitat for salmon.

Whatcom Creek

On June 10, 1999, a rupture in the Olympic Pipeline discharged approximately 236,000 gallons of gasoline into a tributary of Whatcom Creek. Fumes from the gasoline ignited as it moved down Whatcom Creek, through a city park and residential neighborhoods.

Response crews attempt to remove the remaining oil aboard the grounded tanker Exxon Valdez.

Exxon Valdez

On March 24, 1989 the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling 11 million gallons of oil. The ecologically sensitive location, season of the year, and large scale of this spill resulted in one of the largest environmental disasters in U.S. history.

An approximate 100-foot gash in the hull of the vessel resulted in a 53,000 gallon fuel oil spill.

M/V Cosco Busan

The container ship M/V Cosco Busan struck one of the towers of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on the morning of November 7, 2007. The impact tore a large gash in the hull of the vessel, releasing 53,000 gallons of fuel oil into the water.