Total Costs Resulting from Two Major Oil Spills

CED-77-71: Published: Jun 1, 1977. Publicly Released: Jun 1, 1977.

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The combined short-term costs associated with two oil spills that occurred during 1976 resulting from sinking tankers will exceed $4 million, excluding the cost of oil spilled. The costs incurred for cleanup, containment, and disposal operations and damages to the environment resulting from the sinking of a Steuart Transportation Company barge (STC-101) in the lower Chesapeake Bay in February and the sinking of the Argo Merchant off the coast of Massachusetts in December were reviewed.

Both of the vessels had a cargo of No. 6 industrial oil and sank in inclement weather. The Argo Merchant, which spilled about 7,500,000 gallons, incurred an estimated total cost of $5.2 million, including $2.4 million for the oil. At the time of this review, no recovery of costs had been obtained from the spiller, and the owners of the ship had filed a limitation action asking the court to limit their liability for the spill. The STC-101, which spilled about 250,000 gallons, incurred costs of about $1.3 million. No recovery of the costs incurred had been made at the time of the review, and Steuart Transportation has denied any responsibility for the spill. The monetary value for some environmental damage could not be determined. In addition, the impact of the spills on marine life and long-term environmental effects have not been determined.

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