Massachusetts Oil Spill Prevention & Response Efforts

MassDEP is continuing efforts begun in the aftermath of the 2003 Buzzards Bay oil spill to strengthen Massachusetts' ability to prevent and respond to oil spills in the coastal waters of the Commonwealth. Much of this effort has been focused on reducing the risk of a spill from tank barge traffic travelling through Buzzards Bay and the Cape Cod Canal but additional efforts have been more widely targeted toward oil spill preparedness including providing state and local first responders with the tools and training necessary to mount a timely and effective response to a marine oil spill in local waters. Information and links on this page highlight MassDEP's ongoing efforts to prepare for, prevent and respond to marine oil spills.

Oil Spill Response Preparedness

MassDEP has provided an oil spill response trailer to each of the listed coastal communities (click on link below for full-sized map). MassDEP currently owns 76,500 feet of near-shore containment boom and 2,000 feet of off-shore containment boom, both of which are used in response to fresh oil spills, and over 16,000 feet of snare boom, which is used to "snare" tar balls.

MassDEP has 25 trained emergency responders, on call 24/7, who drill with U.S. Coast Guard ((USCG), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and local responders (fire departments, shellfish wardens, harbor masters) on response to oil and hazardous materials incidents. Many of these staff are specially trained in marine oil spill response techniques.

MassDEP also contracts with experienced oil spill response companies to provide incident response and cleanup. These companies have experienced staff and stockpiled equipment for use in responding to marine oil spills. DEP and USCG are monitoring those companies to ensure that local response capacity is maintained at adequate levels. For more information on this equipment click on the link below

First Responder Oil Spill Training

MassDEP sponsors "hands on" oil spill training for first responders from coastal communities in order to develop and maintain the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively and safely respond to an oil spill. The following links provide information on training activities sponsored by MassDEP and can be used by responders who can not attended the "hands on" class or as a refresher for those who have.

In addition to the MassDEP-sponsored training, there are numerous workshops and online training tool available, such as those provided by the National Institute of Environmental Science (NIEHS). The NIEHS Training Tool is an awareness-level health and safety resource for "skilled support personnel" (SSP) who participate in an oil spill response and cleanup. This tool helps workers understand: what an oil spill is, the characteristics of an oil spill response, and how to identify and control hazards pertaining to the response and cleanup activities associated with an oil spill.

Massachusetts Geographic Response Plans (GRPs)

Geographic Response Plans are a map based response tools designed to guide local responders by providing information on sensitive coastal areas and suggesting response strategies for protecting these areas. Geographic Response Plans have been developed for Buzzards Bay, Cape Cod & the Islands, the North Shore of Massachusetts. A GRP for Boston Harbor is under development and will be completed in the fall of 2010. The South Shore (Cohasset to Plymouth) and Mt. Hope Bay GRP's will be developed in 2011. More information on the Massachusetts GRP's can be found at the link below.

Links to Other Oil Spill Information

Federal Oil Spill Resources

Other Oil Spill Resources

State and County Spill Resources

Multimedia Resources

Social Media Resources