Natural Resource Damages Program Oil Spill Settlements | MassDEP

When oil spills into the water, it can harm fish and wildlife and prevent people from fishing, boating, or using the shoreline. How much will it cost to restore these public resources? Oil spill NRD settlements are summarized below.

Bouchard B-120 Oil Spill

On April 27, 2003, the Bouchard B-120 oil tank barge spilled 98,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil after striking a shoal that tore a 12-foot hole in its hull. The oil washed up on 100 miles of the shore in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The oil killed or harmed many bird species, including the threatened piping plover and the endangered roseate tern. The oil spill also injured fish, shellfish, and other aquatic life. Several towns restricted boating and beach access. All shellfish beds within Buzzards Bay were closed immediately following the spill. 

In May 2011, the Trustees reached partial settlement for NRD claims with the responsible party. The settlement included $6,076,083:

  • $1,522,000 for Shoreline and Aquatic Resources
  • $3,305,393 for Recreational Resources
  • $1,249,000 for Ram Island Shoreline
  • $715,000 for Piping Plovers

In 2014, the Trustees released a Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment. Following public review and comment, the Trustees selected 16 restoration projects in Massachusetts and 5 in Rhode Island. In Massachusetts:

  • 4 projects restore salt marsh, eelgrass, and migratory fish
  • 8 projects protect shoreland, create trails, build boat ramps, and provide universal access to several beaches
  • 4 projects restore quahog, bay scallop, and oyster populations 

The Trustee Council includes MassDEP, State of Rhode Island, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Upper Mystic River Oil Spill

On Friday, May 31, 2013, a tanker truck carrying 10,000 gallons of red-dyed diesel fuel overturned at the intersection of Mystic Valley Parkway and Medford Street in Arlington. All but about 400 gallons of fuel spilled from the tanker onto the roadway. The fuel flowed into catch basins and then into the Mystic River in Arlington and Medford.

On October 16, 2014, MassDEP entered into an NRD settlement agreement with J.P. Noonan Transportation, Inc. totaling $55,100.  In 2016, MassDEP awarded funds to the Town of Arlington and the City of Medford to implement restoration projects.  These projects will create native riparian habitat and improve water quality.

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Mystic River/Hallmark Oil Spill

In 1999, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts reached an NRD settlement with Hallmark Health Systems for releasing No. 6 fuel oil into the lower Mystic River. The settlement totaled $26,801.97. Multiple releases occurred to the River from a leaking underground storage tank into a storm drain.

In 2014, MassDEP awarded funds to the Mystic Valley Development Commission (MVDC) to complete a restoration project along the Malden River. In 2016, MVDC created wetland habitat, restored and stabilized degraded river bank, and expanded public access.

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T/V Posavina Chelsea Creek Oil Spill

On June 8, 2000, the T/V Posavina was rammed by its own tug boat and the collision punctured a hole in its hull, spilling 59,600 gallons of bunker fuel oil.  The oil spill coated salt marsh, deteriorated bulkheads, and rip-rap walls along the shore of Chelsea Creek, a tributary to the lower Mystic River.

The Trustees prepared a Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for public review and comment. The Plan identified two salt marsh restoration projects to receive a total of $100,000. In 2004, the Trustees entered into an NRD settlement with the responsible party.

The Trustees worked with the Chelsea Open Space and Recreation Committee to restore 1.5 acres of salt marsh along Mill Creek. The Trustees also worked with the City of Boston to remove tons of concrete, wood, brick, and other debris and plant 1.6 acres of native salt marsh plant species at the former Belle Isle Fish Company site.

The Trustees include the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Global/Irving Chelsea Creek Oil Spill

On March 8, 2006, approximately 18,000 gallons of Number 2 heating oil spilled into Chelsea Creek. The oil spilled from a pipeline used to transfer oil to and from storage tanks and the fuel dock. Oil also migrated upstream into Mill Creek. The oil affected surface water, sediments, shoreline and marine communities.

In 2008, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts reached a $312,500 settlement with Global and Irving. Of these funds, $12,500 compensates for natural resource injuries to the Chelsea and Mill Creeks and $200,000 for other environmental impacts.

In 2014, MassDEP awarded funds to the Chelsea Collaborative (now GreenRoots). When completed, the funded project will improve water quality in and enhance habitat along Chelsea Creek. It will also expand access to Chelsea Creek for environmental justice neighborhoods.

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