Great Lakes Sea Grant Programs Partner on Resources to Handle Oil and Fuel Spills
Crude Move: Great Lakes Sea Grant Oil Initiative - News


Katherine Bunting-Howarth, New York Sea Grant, Associate Director, E:, P: 607-255-2832

Ithaca, NY, August 30, 2018 - New resources are available related to June 2017's "Crude Move Symposium," during which a spotlight was placed on the economics, risks and hazards of crude oil transport through such important waters as the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River system and the Gulf of Mexico.

First, there's "A Boater's Guide To Handling Oil and Fuel Spills" (pdf), a one-pager with information on how boaters can prepare for, respond to, and report an accidental oil or fuel spill on their vessels.

Second, a Q&A was compiled that provides some standards for reporting small oil spills. This content was derived from: 40 C.F.R. Part 112, the “Oil Pollution Prevention Regulation” and 40 C.F.R. Part 110 “Discharge of Oil Regulation.”

When is it necessary to report a spill?

The federal government’s definition of a spill that must be reported includes (1) when the spill violates applicable water quality standards, (2) when the spill causes a film or discoloration on the surface of water or shore, and (3) when the spill causes sludge or emulsion to be deposited beneath the surface of water or on a shore.

To what agency should spills be reported?

The Environmental Protection Agency is the federal response agency for inland oil spills. The Coast Guard is the response agency for coastal or deep-water port oil spills. Both can be reached through the National Response Center (NRC) at 1-800-424-8802.

What information should be included in the report?

When reporting an oil spill to the NRC, one should be prepared to provide:

(1) personal information such as one’s name, location, and telephone number,

(2) the name and address of the responsible party and the name or other identifying information of the carrier or vessel,

(3) the date, time, and location of the incident,

(4) the source and cause of the spill, (4) the types and quantity of material(s) spilled,

(5) whether the spill affects land, water, or both,

(6) description of the danger or threat posed by the spill,

(7) the number and types of injuries caused by the spill (if applicable) and whether people have been evacuated,

(8) description of the weather conditions at the location of the spill,

(9) any other agencies that have been notified, and

(10) any other information that might help emergency responders in dealing with the incident. For more, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "Emergency Response" online resources.

Who should report the spill?

The federal government requires the person or organization responsible for the spill to report it when it reaches the pre-defined limit. However, anyone who observes a spill is encouraged to report as well.

More Info: Crude Move: Great Lakes Sea Grant Oil Initiative

June 2017's symposium was sponsored by a partnership of the Great Lakes Commission, the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network, the Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant Oil Spill Science Outreach Program, the International Joint Commission, the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, and the Joyce Foundation.

In September 2017, a 39-page proceedings (pdf) and 24-part video series of the symposium were made available.

For more information about the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s work on oil transportation, contact New York Sea Grant Associate Director Katherine Bunting-Howarth at

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 33 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly. Our program also produces an occasional e-newsletter,"NOAA Sea Grant's Social Media Review," via its blog,

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