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Case: Tampa Bay Oil Spill, FL

Date of incident: August 10, 1993.

Location: The entrance of Tampa Bay, Florida.


Case status: Settled, restoration underway.

Overview: On August 10, 1993, a freighter and two tug-assisted barges collided near the entrance of Tampa Bay, Florida.  The collision resulted in a fire on one of the barges and caused a major oil spill. Over 32,000 gallons of jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline and about 330,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil spilled from the barges. Despite emergency cleanup efforts, the oil fouled 13 miles of beaches and caused injury to birds, sea turtles, mangrove habitat, seagrasses, salt marshes, shellfish beds, water column resources and bottom sediments. Recreational uses of local waterways, beaches and shellfish beds were also disrupted by the spill and necessary response actions. As a result of the natural resource assessment and restoration planning process undertaken for this spill, restoration projects to address or compensate for these impacts have been completed or are underway, including:

Ecological Restoration

  • Replacing sand on beaches.
  • Instituting a nesting beach survey program for an ongoing sea turtle recovery effort.
  • Sponsoring monofilament clean-up events to eliminate monofilaments as a source of injuries and mortalities to birds at colonial nesting sites.
  • Installing signs at fishing piers demonstrating proper rescue and fishhook removal from seabirds and the importance of proper monofilament disposal.
  • Constructing dune walkovers to restore areas where foot traffic has destroyed dune habitat.
  • Restoring dune vegetation.
  • Restoring wetland habitat.
  • Providing for increased enforcement of laws designed to prevent mortalities to sea turtles due to fishing along the west central Florida coast.

Recreational Restoration

  • Building new and rehabilitating older fishing piers.
  • Building new and replacing old public boardwalks and walkways along recreational beaches, shoreline habitats, and within public parks and preserves.
  • Reconstructing a deteriorating boat ramp.
  • Creating new oyster reef habitat.

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