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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. 

NOAA worked with the U.S. Coast Guard and state response agencies to contain and clean up the oil, and initiated a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA)Investigation performed by trustees to identify injuries to natural resources caused by oil spills, hazardous substance releases, and grounding incidents in National Marine Sanctuaries, and plan restoration activities. The goal of NRDA is to restore natural resources and compensate the public for lost recreational use.

What Were the Impacts?

Oil from the spill smothered bottom-dwelling creatures on the seafloor. These organisms form an important part of the aquatic food chain, supporting fish and marine mammals. The oil moved over time, ultimately affecting approximately 45,000 acres across the Gulf.

What’s Happening Now?

NOAA initially worked cooperatively with the barge company to assess the extent of the spill’s impacts. In May of 2009, the company reached its limit of liability and withdrew from the process. NOAA then independently completed the injury assessment process.

We released a draft restoration plan for public comment in March 2013, recommending a marsh creation and shoreline protection project in East Galveston Bay. After receiving, considering, and responding to public comments on the draft restoration plan, we completed the final restoration plan and selected the marsh creation and shoreline protection project. The final plan was published in July 2016. The next step is to submit a claim to the National Pollution Funds Center for the costs of the NRDA and project implementation.

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

“The restoration will ultimately compensate the public for impacts to natural resources that are largely hidden from public view but provide important ecosystem services to communities throughout the northern Gulf of Mexico region.”

Kris Benson
NOAA Marine Habitat Resource Specialist


Kristopher Benson
NOAA Restoration Center
Galveston, TX
(409) 621-1200

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Last updated August 17, 2020