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

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

November 13, 2018

$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. 

On May 11, 2016 Shell Offshore, Inc. reported a crude oil spill from a well in the Green Canyon Block, 97 miles offshore of Timbalier Island, Louisiana. 1,926 barrels, or 80,892 gallons of oil were discharged into the Gulf of Mexico. 

Offshore oil spills come with unique challenges. In this case the impacts were not visible from shore. NOAA used satellite and aircraft observations to assess the size and movement of the oil slick. Computer modeling and existing science were also used to assess impacts.

 NOAA officials observed dolphins swimming, and birds diving, in and around the slick. Dolphins are impacted when they surface under it and inhale oil through their blowhole. Heavily oiled birds become too heavy to fly, and lightly oiled birds risk ingesting oil as they attempt to clean themselves.

 Larval fish and invertebrates live at the surface of the water where the oil floats. They are very sensitive to oil, especially in combination with ultraviolet rays found in sunlight. NOAA and co-trustees took all of this into account while assessing damages. 

Settlement funds will go towards restoring these resources damaged by the spill. This may include oyster restoration projects, modifying gear used for fishing, and funding research expeditions to monitor marine mammal health in the Gulf of Mexico.