Oil Pollution

Information on Oil Pollution in Buzzards Bay

Related pages:  Oil Spill Training     |   Reporting Violations  |   1992 Oil Pollution Action Plan   |   Quick Facts about Buzzards Bay.  |   Massachusetts Oil Spill Law

One focus of the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program is to address chronic and catastrophic discharges of hydrocarbons to Buzzards Bay. This page links contains links to initiatives related to oil pollution that have been the focus of the Buzzards Bay NEP and our partners.

Factoid: More than 2 billion gallons of oil, gasoline, and other hydrocarbons are shipped through Buzzards Bay annually.

Read and comment upon our New Oil Pollution Action Plan for Buzzards Bay.

Barge traveling through the Cape Cod Canal.

Bouchard No. 120: Largest Oil Spill in Buzzards Bay in nearly 30 years
Click the link above for information on the April 27, 2003 No. 6
fuel oil spill in Buzzards Bay.

The Coast Guard is the lead authority for managing oil spills in Buzzards Bay, but at the time of the 2003 Bouchard oil spill, the municipalities of Buzzards Bay, under the aegis of the Buzzards Bay Action Committee, and with assistance of the Buzzards Bay NEP, had developed this oil spill contingency plan for first action and cooperation until the Coast Guard arrives on scene. Read this original Buzzards Bay Oil spill contingency plan. Read the 2001 Buzzards Bay Oil Spill Response Manual (184 kb pdf file).

After the Bouchard Oil spill, the citizen group, The Buzzards Bay Coalition worked with Buzzards Bay municipalities, DEP, and the Coast Guard to develop a new more comprehensive Buzzards Bay Geographic Response Plan for Oil-Spill Mitigation.

Proposed Bilge Oil Reclamation Facility for the New Bedford Fishing Fleet

In 2000, the Buzzards Bay NEP developed the proposal below in partnership with New Bedford Harbor Development Commission to collect bilge oil from fishing vessels in New Bedford harbor in order to avoid chronic discharges of thousands of gallons of oil into Buzzards Bay. Matching funds were to be provided by Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management, Massachusetts Environmental Trust, and the City of New Bedford. This project has languished because of complex permitting and siting issues, and was never implemented. However, the City and the state remain interested in eventually creating such a facility, so we have kept the proposal posted.

Fishing Fleet Bilge Oil Facility proposal for New Bedford Harbor (278 kb pdf file)

Related News Stories:
NBST article 7/28/00: Another Mystery Oil Spill in New Bedford Harbor

Interactive Maps

interactive maps These interactive maps have information and locations about oil spills in the eastern US north of 30 degrees latitude. Click on the dots to identify the site. (These pages could take up to 30 seconds to load.)
Oil spills in 2005 plotted on Yahoo Maps

Do you have Google Earth installed on your computer (a free program)? If so, these interactive maps might be easier to use.
Oil spills in 2005 plotted on Google Earth


Articles and Reports

(Read the Buzzards Bay NEP’s May 2000 Report on BILGE SOCKS FOR BOATS (435k pdf0).
(This is a 435K PDF file and requires Acrobat Reader[TM]) BBP funds municipal oil spill training.
NBST article 7/23/00: Oil Spills in Buzzards Bay: Preparing for the worst
NBST article 8/5/00: Motor oil contaminates Clark’s Cove


US Coast Guard National Response Center

Coast Guard Statistics on oil spills in the US

Coast Guard Response Information page

NOAA Office of Oil Spill Response and Restoration page

US EPA Oil Pollution Program

Special note on oil units of measure and converting units


1 barrel of oil= 42 gallons;
1 US ton (= short ton) of oil is roughly 6.3 barrels or 264.6 gallons (but varies with density of the oil; a No. 2 fuel oil might equal 272 gallons whereas No. 6 fuel oil might equal 248 gallons)

Weight to volume estimate is based on a medium crude oil. There are more gallons in a ton of a light hydrocarbon, like gasoline, and less gallons in a heavy hydrocarbon, like No. 6 fuel oil.

SPECIAL NOTE about the Argo Merchant: The Argo Merchant tanker oil spill disaster of Dec. 15, 1976 did not occur in Buzzards Bay as sometimes noted on some websites. It occurred southeast of Nantucket Island off Cape Cod about 50 miles southeast of Buzzards Bay. The oil spill largely headed out into the Atlantic Ocean. The erroneous statement that this spill occurred in Buzzards Bay is repeated on a number of web sites, including a few government sites, and is sometimes misreported in the press. Read the action plan above for information on some past oil spills in Buzzards Bay.