NPS Oil Spill Response

Aerial photo of Gulf Islands NS

Overflight assessing boom conditions at Gulf Islands National Seashore

NPS Photo

In April 2010, the National Park Service was an integral part of the immediate federal response to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Today, we continue working on the recovery with our partners – the U.S. Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

Response

Immediately after the explosion, the National Park Service deployed incident management personnel to prepare for and respond to oil impacts along the Gulf Coast. More than 600 employees from 120 parks and regional and national offices across the country stepped up to help.

National parks throughout the Gulf of Mexico took immediate action to document water quality and environmental conditions for plant and animal life. Biologists, ecologists, and archeologists from those parks helped identify the most sensitive areas of coastline so the U.S. Coast Guard could put protective measures in place such as absorbent boom and protection for nesting sea turtles and colonial seabirds. Additional NPS experts from around the country came to the Gulf to help shoreline assessment teams check beaches for oil and recommend cleanup methods, while pilots and helicopter crewmembers flew assessment and cleanup missions.When oil started washing up at Gulf Islands National Seashore, more scientists answered the call to help direct cleanup crews in the best methods to remove oil without causing further harm to plants, animals, historic buildings or buried artifacts. Watch our Oil Spill Video Series to learn how science helps the National Park Service protect park resources.

Looking Ahead

The National Park Service continues to be part of the ongoing recovery of the Gulf Coast – on the ground and from afar. Although Gulf Islands National Seashore is the most directly affected, other parks around the Gulf still have to cope with the effects of the spill on plants and wildlife circulating in the water. Drifting oil may also continue to affect archeological resources. On beaches where cleanup efforts have reached the point where cleaning might cause more damage than leaving the oil in place, staff will continue to monitor for more oil washing ashore, especially after storms.

Park Status

We recognize that the national parks in the Gulf Coast attract millions of visitors each year and are integral to the economic fabric and natural systems of this region. All national parks in the Gulf Coast region are open to the public. However, depending on future oil impacts, some temporary closures may occur. Please check individual park websites for further information.

Natural Resources Damage Assessment

The Oil Pollution Act authorizes certain federal agencies, states and Indian tribes, collectively known as the Natural Resource Trustees (Trustees) to evaluate the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on natural resources. The Trustees are responsible for studying and documenting the effects of the spill through a process known as Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA). NRDA Pre-Assessment Work Plan