B120 Corrections

Corrections, retractions, and amplifications for the B-120 spill

The Buzzards Bay NEP is a technical assistance and planning agency, however during the recent oil crisis, we discovered our website was being used both as a source of background information, and as a news source. Through this process, we discovered and were informed of certain errors and omissions on information previously posted, or simple conflicts of information from original published sources. Below we will begin listing some of the most salient discrepancies:

  • Bouchard 65 1977 spill: We originally listed that this spill occurred in 1978. It actually occurred January 28, 1977 when Buzzards Bay was iced over. This spill is notable because a small portion was burned off on the ice near the original spill. We have also discovered that we have been misreporting the volume of the spill. Go to our past spills page for more information.
  • Florida spill: We originally listed volumes and dates of past oil spills based on the information printed in the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) in 1992. One discrepancy called to our attention was the fact that the CCMP listed the 1969 Florida off West Falmouth as 185,000 gallons. This value was actually the upper range given in the seminal 1980 scientific paper on the spill “Anatomy of an oil spill: Long-term effects from the grounding of the barge Florida of West Falmouth, Massachusetts” by Woods Hole Scientists Howard Sanders et al. (in the Journal of Marine Research 38:265-385) stated that the barge spilled between 650,000 to 700,000 liters. This is (rounded to the nearest hundred) 171,700 to 185,000 gallons. However, we have discovered that this and other reports were in error. Go to our past spills page to read why we think the spill was officially listed as 189,000 gallons.


  • Volume of oil on the barge: We originally reported 4 million gallons of oil on board Bouchard No. 120, based on the number of barrels reported to us (42 gallons per barrel). However, several newspapers started using the value 867,000 gallons. It was suggested that 4 million was the capacity of the barge, not the contents, so we adopted the smaller value. However, a day later, the Coast Guard confirmed the 4 million gallons as the correct volume of No. 6 on board.


  • QE II grounding: We briefly posted on our table of oil spills a 1990 oil spill from the Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship in 1990 at Sow and Pigs reef near Cuttyhunk Island. There was a QEII grounding at the site, but it was on August 7, 1992 (NTSB Report Number: MAR-93-01). The vessel sustained $13.2 million in damages, and leaked 50 gallons of fuel oil which was residual oil in an empty fuel tank that was ruptured in the incident.