On Sunday, 4/27/03, Bouchard Transportation Corporation's Barge #120 ruptured its fuel tanks resulting in a release of #6 fuel oil into Buzzards Bay. Initial estimates indicated that a minimum of 14,700 gallons of fuel was spilled.
On 5/20/03, the company notified the United States Coast Guard (USCG) that new information indicates the amount of oil released was approximately 98,000 gallons. To date, the oil spill has impacted more than 53 miles of shoreline primarily along the western side of Buzzards Bay.
Acting as State Trustee, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), along with more than 50 other agencies including the USCG, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Bouchard Transportation Corporation, Incorporated, mobilized to provide a cooperative cleanup response. A Unified Command center was established to facilitate cleanup activities and direct the numerous personnel and resources that have been dedicated to this event.
The responsible party and their insurance company spent more than $18.5 million in cleanup costs. On a daily basis, approximately 700 workers were assigned to shoreline cleanup crews. These workers recovered 5000 cubic yards of oiled debris, and applied 48,000 feet of snare boom and 7000 feet of containment boom. Earlier response activities resulted in the recovery at sea of over 3500 gallons of oil. Although a number of birds died as a direct result of the spill, the bird recovery and rehabilitation unit in New Bedford rehabilitated thirteen birds and released nine.