Location of InjuryBuzzards Bay
Date of InjuryApril 2003
Date and Amount of SettlementIn negotiation
NRD Settlement Funds AvailableIn negotiation
Responsible PartyBouchard Transportation Company
Natural Resource TrusteesNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),
United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS),
MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA),
State of Rhode Island, and Wampanoag Tribe
Release of Hazardous SubstanceBouchard Barge 120 hit an obstacle creating a 12-foot rupture in its hull resulting in discharge of an estimated 98,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil
Injured ResourcesShoreline, migratory birds, wildlife, aquatic resources, recreational uses
Restoration StatusTrustee & RP Cooperative NRD Assessment ongoing.
Additional Resources Bouchard 120 Oil Spill NRD Damages Assessment  pdf format of Bouchard 120 Oil Spill NRD Damages Assessment
NOAA DARRP Bouchard Case Summary
Buzzards Bay Oil Spill (Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program)
Bouchard Cleanup of Sites and Spills (MassDEP)

Bouchard NRD Damages Assessment

Since 2003, the federal and state Natural Resource Trustees, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the State of Rhode Island, have led a cooperative natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) with representatives of the Responsible Party that owns and was operating the barge at the time of the spill, the Bouchard Transportation Co.

The NRDA's purpose is to restore public resources injured by the spill and compensate the public for lost recreational uses. The cooperative NRDA includes pre-assessment activities, the determination and quantification of injury to natural resources and/or related services, and the development and implementation of a restoration plan for said injured resources and/or services.

Natural Resource Trustees

The Bouchard Transportation Co., Inc. Trustee Council ("Trustee Council") includes the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. NOAA, as the lead administrative Trustee for the Buzzards Bay oil spill, is coordinating Trustee efforts. The spill also affected tribal resources and the Wampanoag Tribe settled separately with Bouchard.

Case History

Bouchard Beach cleanup

On April 27, 2003, Bouchard Barge 120 hit an obstacle in Buzzards Bay, creating a 12-foot rupture in its hull and discharging an estimated 98,000 gallons of No. 6 oil. The oil is known to have affected an estimated 90 miles of shoreline, numerous bird species, and recreational use of the bay, such as shell fishing and boating. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), the United States Coast Guard, NOAA, and Bouchard Transportation Corporation, Incorporated, responded to cleanup the spill (along with more than 50 other agencies). Oil spill responders recovered about 3500 gallons of #6 fuel oil and 5,000 cubic yards of oiled debris, and applied 48,000 feet of snare boom and 7,000 feet of containment boom.

Injured Natural Resources

Spreading across the bay and along more than 90 miles of shoreline, the oil slick affected several public resources including:

Bouchard Oiledrocks
  • aquatic organisms, and sandy and rocky beach and wetland habitats along the shore
  • wildlife including hundreds of birds such as loons, scoters, mergansers, terns, eiders, and federally protected piping plovers and roseate terns
  • harvestable shellfish beds throughout Buzzards Bay
  • recreational activities such as boating, shellfishing and beach use

The Trustees expect to complete Injury Assessment Reports for recreational use resources, shoreline resources, and aquatic resources during 2008, and for bird injuries in 2009.

  • Shoreline Resources:
    The Trustees completed an assessment of injury to shoreline areas and intertidal benthic habitats in the summer of 2007. The Shoreline Resource Injury Report is being drafted. The Trustees plan to finalize the report and place it into the Administrative Record in summer of 2008.
  • Wildlife Resources:
    By June 2005, the Trustees completed assessments of injuries to rare northern diamondback terrapins and federally protected beetles, and the reports can be found in the Administrative Record. Approximately 450 birds were immediately killed by the oil spill including; loons, scoters, mergansers, oyster catchers, terns (including roseate terns), eiders, and piping plovers. The Trustees continue to assess injuries in three categories of birds: piping plovers, common and roseate terns, and all other impacted bird species. The cooperative assessment of bird injuries includes a technically complex quantification of the total number of birds killed by the spill based on the number of dead birds - and assessment of non-lethal impacts such as reduced reproductive success. The Trustees are also assessing potential injuries to marine mammals.
Bouchard Oiledbird
  • Recreational Use Resources:
    The Trustees completed an assessment of injury to recreational shellfishing, shoreline use, and boating in the summer of 2007. The state of Massachusetts closed substantial parts of Buzzards Bay to shellfishing soon after the spill. Most of the shellfish beds were reopened by the fall of 2003. A few areas remain closed. Additionally, there was limited access to some parts of the Bay for boating and some shoreline areas following the spill. The Recreational Use Injury Report, which is being reviewed and approved by the Trustees, will be completed and placed into the Administrative Record for public review in 2008.
  • Aquatic Resources:
    In the fall of 2007, the Trustees completed an assessment of injury to various aquatic resources, including fish and shellfish species and the aquatic habitats that support those species. The Aquatic Resources Injury Report, which is being reviewed and approved by the Trustees, will also be completed and placed into the Administrative Record for public review in 2008.

Restoration Planning

The Trustees, in consultation with Bouchard's representatives, have also begun restoration planning concurrent with the completion of the injury reports. In 2008, the Trustees will begin preparing Draft Restoration Plans to address spill impacts to recreational uses, shoreline habitats, aquatic resources, and piping plovers, upon the completion of the injury report for each category. The Draft Restoration Plan for each injury category will describe the potential resource injuries and service losses resulting from the spill, identify restoration alternatives the Trustees considered , discuss the Trustees evaluation of the restoration alternatives, and present the Trustees' preferred restoration projects. In addition, the Trustees anticipate that a study examining the feasibility of implementing a project to address erosion on Ram Island, as a possible shoreline restoration option; will be completed by summer of 2008.

The Public's Role

The public has the opportunity to review and comment on injury reports and draft restoration plans, plus any other documents placed into the Administrative Record, as they become available.

The Trustees expect to complete injury assessment reports for shoreline resources, aquatic resources, and recreational use resources in 2008 and will place final Injury Reports into the Administrative Record for public review and comment. Following the completion of the injury reports, the Trustees will prepare draft Restoration Plans for each resource category and will publish them for formal public review and comment. The Trustees plan to publish the draft Restoration Plan for Recreational Use Resources in 2009. Draft Restoration Plans for all other resource categories will likely be developed in 2009 or 2010 and will be available to the public for review and comment at that time.

After considering public comment, the Trustees will identify the preferred restoration project(s) that will compensate the public for environmental harm caused by the oil spill. These projects will be implemented by either the Responsible Party with Trustee oversight or by the Trustees using funds provided by the Responsible Party.

Bouchard-120 NRD Trustee Contacts

MA Department of Environmental Protection
Karen Pelto

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Kate Clark

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Veronica Varela

State of Rhode Island
Mary Kay

This information is provided by the Massachusetts Natural Damages Assessment and Restoration.