NOAA 2004-019
Contact: Dave Miller

NOAA News Releases 2004
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Freighter Collides with Tanker Near New Orleans

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is dispatching a team of scientists from its Office of Response and Restoration to a fuel oil spill that occurred last night on the Mississippi River approximately eleven miles west of New Orleans. According to U.S. Coast Guard officials, a 739-foot freighter, the Bright State, struck the Genmar Alexandra, a 792-foot tanker. Approximately 22,000 gallons of fuel oil leaked from the tanker and the product is anticipated to continue to flow down river.

NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) is responding to the scene providing scientific assistance, including trajectory forecasts, response techniques and conducting damage assessment activities. OR&R personnel work with the local NOAA National Weather Service River Forecast and Weather Forecast Offices to provide responders with the most current and accurate forecasts. NOAA is responding as part of a combined federal and state team led by the U.S. Coast Guard. Natural resource damage assessments are conducted in cooperation with other state and federal natural resource agencies.

“We have an interdisciplinary response team on call around the clock to give vital support during incidents of this nature,” said David Kennedy, director of NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration. “One of the key points during a waterborne spill is the trajectory of the oil, where and how far will it go? We have the modeling and expertise to provide that information.” OR&R also evaluates the risk to the environment in the area of the incident and makes recommendations for protection and cleanup. In addition, OR&R assesses harm to natural resources to determine whether any restoration will be required.

The Office of Response and Restoration works to prevent and mitigate harm to coastal resources and is the primary NOAA office that responds to oil spills and hazardous material releases. It provides scientific support to the U.S. Coast Guard for spills and technical assistance to other agencies for hazardous material releases.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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