Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a draft damage assessment and restoration plan that addresses environmental injuries from the barge DBL 152 oil spill
in the Gulf of Mexico in 2005.
The draft plan describes the steps NOAA has taken to see if natural resources, such as marine habitats, were injured by the nearly two-million-gallon spill, as well as the extent of those injuries. The spill began on Nov. 11, 2005, when the 150,000-bbl. double-hull tank barge DBL 152
struck the submerged remains of the West Cameron 229A pipeline service platform and suffered a 35'x6' gash in one of its cargo tanks. Two other cargo tanks were breached sometime after the barge capsized. The platform had collapsed during Hurricane Rita approximately 50 miles southeast of Sabine Pass, Texas. At the time, the barge was owned by K-Sea Transportation
(purchased by Kirby
Corp. in 2011) and Targa Midstream Services
Ltd. was the platform's owner.
"Sometimes effects of oil spills are immediate and clearly visible, but often the effects are less obvious and require expertise and time to properly evaluate," said Troy Baker, NOAA's Assessment and Restoration Division acting southeast branch chief who has been leading the project. "Developing this draft plan and the comment period for it is the next step in an ongoing process."
The draft plan also describes environmental restoration proposed by NOAA to compensate the public for environmental injuries resulting from the oil spill. To help address this, NOAA has proposed estuarine shoreline protection and a salt marsh creation project at the Texas Chenier Plain National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Galveston Bay. Once the plan is finalized, NOAA would apply to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund--which is funded through costs and penalties recovered from polluters as well as taxes on the petroleum industry--to fund the restoration.
Public comments on the draft may be submitted by mail or electronically through April 15. Written comments can be sent to: NOAA, Office of General Counsel, Natural Resources Section, Attn: Chris Plaisted, 501 W. Ocean Blvd., Suite 4470, Long Beach, CA 90802; or electronically at http://www.regulations.gov
(Docket I.D.: NOAA-NMFS-2013-0034). The Restoration Plan is available at http://www.darrp.noaa.gov/southeast/dbl152/admin.html
Following the public comment period, NOAA will consider the comments received and release a final restoration plan. The comment period is the last step before restoration projects are selected and funding is sought from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.