Trustees Release Final Plan to Restore 432 Acres of Habitat Injured by 2006 Citgo Spill in Louisiana
February 24, 2022
Federal and state trustees for the Citgo Refinery Calcasieu River oil spill in Louisiana released a Final Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment (PDF, 132 pages), to restore resources injured by the 2006 spill.
The spill contaminated over 150 miles of shoreline, including beaches, residential and industrial waterfront, and marsh. With the projects identified in this final restoration plan, the trustees aim to restore approximately 432 acres of different habitats near the Calcasieu estuary.
Details on the Selected Projects
The Long Point Bayou Marsh Creation Project will create and enhance approximately 392 acres of saline marsh, including tidal creeks, in what is currently shallow open water in Cameron Parish, Louisiana. This project will restore ecological services to marsh and shoreline habitats and provide suitable nesting and foraging habitat for birds.
The Calcasieu Lake Oyster Cultch Plant Project will create approximately 18 acres of oyster reef habitat in Cameron Parish, Louisiana. Healthy reefs serve as extremely valuable forage and nursery habitat for many important recreational and commercial species of fish, invertebrates, and other organisms injured during the incident. The project will create a substrate for oyster spat to settle and grow on that will develop into an oyster reef.
The Houma Navigation Canal Bird Island Project will create new nesting habitat for coastal island nesting birds in Terrebonne Bay, Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, to compensate for the spill’s injuries to birds. The Bird Island Project, currently being designed for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill case, will enlarge a nesting island located about four miles southeast of Cocodrie. The project will enlarge the island from its current size of 32 acres to approximately 50 acres. The Calcasieu River case trustees will partner with the Deepwater Horizon trustees and add to or offset a portion of the project construction costs.
Background on the 2006 Oil Spill
The Citgo Refinery spill occurred on June 19, 2006, in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Approximately 21 million gallons (approximately 525,000 barrels) of oil waste from storage tanks at the Citgo Refinery wastewater treatment plant spilled into the Calcasieu Estuary. The oily waste discharged from the tanks initially fell into an open-air containment berm but it is estimated that 54,000 barrels of oil wastewater entered the Calcasieu Estuary, causing damage to the adjacent environment and economy.
On August 31, 2021, the Department of Justice finalized a Consent Decree valued at $19.69 million, to resolve federal and state claims for natural resource damages associated with the spill. The case trustees will use most of these funds to support the restoration projects described above.