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On Sunday, April 27th, 2003, Bouchard Transportation Co. Barge #120 ruptured a cargo tank. Initial fuel loss estimates indicated that a minimum 14,700 gallons of fuel was spilled into Buzzards Bay. The Bouchard Transportation Co. notified the United States Coast Guard on May 19, 2003 that the amount of oil that was released was approximately 98,000 gallons. The oil released impacted more than 53 miles of shoreline, primarily along the western side of Buzzards Bay.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the United States Coast Guard, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, (along with more than 50 other agencies), and Bouchard Transportation Corporation, Incorporated, responded to cleanup the spill. Extensive resources were dedicated to ensure the cleanup. As of May 20, 2003, the responsible party and their insurance providers had spent more than $18.5 million for cleanup and operations.
During the initial cleanup phase, the Unified Command determined that approximately 700 workers per day were responding to the cleanup of the spill. These workers recovered about 3500 gallons of #6 fuel oil, 5,000 cubic yards of oiled debris, and applied 48,000 feet of snare boom, and 7,000 feet of containment boom. Although a number of birds died as a direct result of the spill, the bird recovery and rehabilitation unit in New Bedford rehabilitated 13 birds and released 9.
The Unified Command established a list of priority beaches to focus its resources to prepare the beaches for the holiday and beach season. Areas of concern included sand beaches, marshes, rock shorelines, marine sediments, shellfish, and bird habitat.
After the Bouchard #120 spill, the Massachusetts Legislature passes "An Act Relative to Oil Spill Prevention and Response in Buzzards Bay and Other Harbors and Bays of the Commonwealth" It was signed into law by Governor Romney on August 4, 2004.
MassDEP has an extensive collection of photographs from the May 23, 2003 Bouchard #12 spill. View the collection on MassDEP's Flickr site.