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Case: Buzzards Bay/Bouchard 120, MA

Date of incident:

April 27, 2003.


Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts and nearby coastal waters in Rhode Island


Case status:

Draft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment released for public comment.


On April 27, 2003, Bouchard Barge 120 hit an obstacle in Buzzards Bay, creating a 12-foot rupture in its hull and spilling an estimated 98,000 gallons of No. 6 oil. The oil is known to have affected more than 98 miles of shoreline, aquatic intertidal and subtidal habitats, numerous bird species, and public recreational uses of the Bay, such as shellfishing, general shoreline use, and boating. The Oil Pollution Act (OPA) charges NOAA, USFWS, the states, and Indian tribes—collectively known as Trustees—with evaluating the environmental and cultural impacts resulting from oil spills.

While response agencies worked to contain and clean up the oil, the natural resource Trustees initiated a natural resource damage assessment (NRDA). NOAA, as the lead administrative Trustee for the Buzzards Bay oil spill, is coordinating Trustee efforts. Bouchard Transportation Company, the responsible party (RP) that owns and was operating the barge (B-120) at the time of the spill, has been cooperating with the Trustees and assisting with Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) activities. In May 2011, a settlement was reached regarding a portion of the natural resource injuries including piping plover, shoreline and aquatic resources, and natural resource uses. An injury assessment continues for some of the bird injuries and settlement negotiations for these injuries are forthcoming.

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