Location of Injury

Tosco Marine Terminal, Chelsea River, East Boston

Date of Injury

June 2000

Date and Amount of Settlement

2000 at $148,615

NRD Settlement Funds Available

Restoration completed @ $100,000

Responsible Party

Sociedad Naviera Ultragas Ltd.

Natural Resource Trustees

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),
United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and
Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)

Release of Hazardous Substances

During departure from dock, the assisting tugboat collided with the T/V Posavina resulting in discharge of 59,600 gallons of oil (IFO 380)

Injured Resources

Shoreline, marine communities, wetlands/salt marsh

Restoration Status

Final Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment completed in 2003; restoration projects completed in 2005; and monitoring completed in 2007.

T/V Posavina NRD Case Settlement

In 2004, State and Federal natural resource Trustees entered into a proposed settlement with Sociedad Naviera Ultragas, Ltd., the Responsible Party under OPA for the T/V Posavina oil spill, to implement restoration projects. The Responsible Party agreed to pay $148,615 to the Trustees, including $42,136 for past assessment costs and $100,000 for estimated costs of implementing the restoration projects, including post-restoration monitoring costs.

Natural Resource Trustees

The natural resource Trustees include the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), U.S. Department of Commerce / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) represented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Each of these agencies is a designated natural resource Trustee under Section 1006 (b) of the Oil Pollution Act (OPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2706(b), and the National Contingency Plan, 40 CFR Section 300.600, for natural resources injured by the T/V Posavina oil spill. The Massachusetts Governor designated EEA as the state trustee for oil spills. EEA is also acting on the oil spill under the authority of the Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Material Release Prevention and Response Act (MGL Chapter 21E). As a designated Trustee, each agency is authorized to act on behalf of the public to assess and recover natural resource damages, and to plan and implement actions to restore natural resources and resource services injured or lost as the result of a discharge of oil.

Case History

The T/V Posavina oil spill occurred on June 8, 2000 in East Boston, Massachusetts at the Tosco Marine Terminal located in the Chelsea Creek portion of Boston Harbor. The T/V Posavina was rammed and punctured by its own tug and the collision punctured a hole in the T/V Posavina's hull resulting in the discharge of 59,600 gallons of oil (IFO 380). On-scene oil recovery equipment included vacuum trucks, small boats, skimmers and fractionalization tanks, and more than 10,000 feet of containment boom. Approximately 100 personnel were on-scene from federal, state, and local agencies and contractors, including the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup. The United States Coast Guard reported that approximately 89% of the spilled oil was recovered. The high recovery rate was attributed to calm weather conditions, slow moving tidal currents, and a quick and effective response. Forty 20-yard containers of oiled shoreline debris were also removed. Although most of the oil was recovered, a substantial amount of local shoreline was oiled, including salt marsh.

Injured Resources

 

Oiled Shoreline along Chelsea Creek

Shoreline oiling occurred throughout the Chelsea Creek, coating areas of rip-rap walls, deteriorated bulkheads, and several relatively small areas of Spartina sp. salt marsh vegetation scattered along the shore. On-the-ground and aerial surveys of the Chelsea Creek and Boston Harbor were conducted by the Trustees to document the location, amount, and extent of oiling in Chelsea Creek. These surveys indicated that approximately five acres of fringing wetland, beach shoreline, and manmade shoreline were oiled.

 

There was some evidence of oiled live marine resources documented within the spill area, and limited reports of mortality. Soft-shelled clams, snails, and fiddler crabs were observed in the spill area. Heavy oiling was noted on gastropod shells, blue mussels, and ribbed mussels. However, based on field observations, exposure appears to have been minimal and short lived.

The Chelsea Creek is predominantly a tidal river system with a total length of only three miles, including the upper reach known as Mill Creek. Most fresh water input is stormwater runoff from the highly urbanized watershed. The Chelsea Creek enters Boston Harbor at the confluence of the much larger Mystic and Charles Rivers. Boston Harbor functions as an estuary where the freshwater from the Charles, Mystic, Chelsea and Neponset rivers mix with sea water from Massachusetts Bay.

Restoration Planning and Projects

A Draft Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment (Draft RP/EA) was prepared by state and federal natural resource Trustees in 2003 for the restoration of natural resources and public use services that were exposed and/or injured by the T/V Posavina oil spill. The Trustees evaluated a range of restoration alternatives which would provide additional resource services to compensate the public for losses pending natural recovery of resources exposed or injured by the T/V Posavina oil spill. Potential restoration projects included wetland restoration, bank stabilization, fill removal and enhancement, and debris removal.

The Final RP/EA, prepared in 2004, selected two salt marsh restoration projects as the Trustees preferred alternatives to compensate for injured natural resources and lost services. The Mill Creek in Chelsea and the Belle Isle Inlet project in East Boston will result in a total of approximately 2.5 acres of restored salt marsh. These projects, located in the vicinity of the spill, enhance the marine environment's overall quality and simultaneously provide benefits to coastal wetlands, shellfish and birds.

 

  • Mill Creek Salt Marsh
    The site construction for the community-based Mill Creek salt marsh restoration project was completed in fall, 2005. To restore aquatic function to this 1.5 acre site, the physical work removed sediment build-up from stormwater deposition and most of the invasive Phragmites australis (common reed), but more importantly, the restoration effort reestablished regular tidal flooding. In addition, native Spartina species (S. alterniflora and S. patens) were planted to reestablish native salt marsh vegetation. Prior to the restoration work, MassHighway installed sediment retention structures and a maintenance plan to reduce sedimentation of the marsh in the future. This project was completed in partnership with the Chelsea Open Space and Recreation Committee.

 

  • Belle Isle Inlet Restoration Project
    The Belle Isle Inlet project is a one-acre site that was properly graded and restored in 2005 by back-filling with appropriate soils and planting with indigenous, herbaceous salt marsh plant species (e.g. Spartina sp.) to restore the salt marsh habitat. The project is located within the state-designated Rumney Marshes Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) (301 CMR 12.00). The project site is located contiguous to a large area of healthy salt marsh and a medium depth tidal channel, conditions favorable to quick colonization by source plants and animals from these adjacent habitats. Active planting of native salt marsh vegetation species stabilized and more rapidly restored functions and values. The project was managed by the City of Boston Parks Department.

The Public's Role

Through the public review process of the 2003 Draft RP/EA, the Trustees sought public comment on the analyses used to define and quantify natural resource injuries and the methods proposed to restore injured natural resources or replace lost resource services. The Draft RP/EA provided the public with information about the nature and extent of the natural resource injuries as well as an evaluation of restoration alternatives.

 T/V Posavina NRD Trustee Contacts

MA Department of Environmental Protection
Karen Pelto
617.292.5785
Karen.Pelto@state.ma.us

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Eric Hutchins
978.281.9313
Eric.Hutchins@noaa.gov

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