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Making Waves: Episode 65 (December 09, 2010)

-- Funds are delivered to restore sections of the Delaware River damaged by a 2004 oil spill
-- The rules change for sewage discharge in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
-- And the Smithsonian launches a new Ocean Portal.

Those stories are coming up today. It's Thursday, Dec. 9th, 2010, and this is Making Waves, your source for news from NOAA's National Ocean Service.

Back in November 2004, a large cargo vessel named the Athos I struck a submerged anchor while preparing to dock in Paulsboro, N.J. The anchor punctured the hull, spilling nearly 265,000 gallons of crude oil into the Delaware River. The accident led to the oiling of more than 280 miles of shoreline. It shut down parts of the river to recreational use. And, as you might imagine, it had a big impact on area habitats, aquatic organisms, birds and other wildlife.

Now, after an oil spill or hazardous substance release, agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the U.S. Coast Guard respond immediately to clean up the substance and eliminate or reduce risks to human health and the environment. But these efforts may not fully restore injured natural resources or address their lost uses by the public.

That's why the Oil Pollution Act mandates that NOAA and its state and federal partners evaluate the loss of natural resources and restore the shoreline and habitat to conditions that would have existed before a given spill.

In the case of the Athos, NOAA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware released a proposed restoration plan in 2009 to repair and improve shoreline and habitats of the river damaged by the release of oil. That plan listed ten suggested projects and underwent a lengthy public review process.

Now the next stage of the restoration process is about to begin. Federal and state agencies recently received $27.5 million from the U.S. Coast Guard Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to restore conditions in the Delaware River.

These projects will benefit coastal communities and economies by improving regional habitat, by providing green jobs during construction, and by creating new opportunities to enjoy the river and its native wildlife. Check our show notes for a link get more details about the Delaware River restoration project from NOAA's Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration Program.

(New Sanctuary Rule)
A new NOAA rule set to take effect on Dec. 27th will prohibit boaters from discharging or depositing sewage into all waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The rule also requires that vessel marine sanitation devices are secured to prevent discharges within sanctuary boundaries.

Vessel sewage discharge has been prohibited in state waters of the sanctuary since its designation as a No Discharge Zone by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2002. Under the new rule, both state and federal sanctuary waters now will be protected from potentially harmful vessel sewage discharge.

Current marine sanitation treatment devices do not kill all viruses found in wastewater, nor do they remove nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen. This new rule prohibiting discharges and requiring the devices to be secured will help prevent these pollutants from entering the sanctuary. Excessive amounts of nutrients can harm coral reef ecosystems by degrading water quality and stimulating the rapid growth of aquatic plants and algae, which in turn smother and kill live coral.

(Ocean Portal)
And finally, we want to make sure you know about the new Smithsonian Ocean Portal … it's a fantastic place to visit, chock full of dynamic, multimedia content designed to engage young adults, ocean enthusiasts and middle school teachers and their students in ocean science, education, and conservation.

NOAA was a big contributor to the development of the Portal and continues to be a major contributor to the site.

The launch of the Ocean Portal is the last of the three components that comprise the NOAA Smithsonian Ocean Initiative Partnership -- the other two being the National Museum of Natural History's Sant Ocean Hall and a more cross-cutting marine science program also at the National Museum.

To learn more, visit

That's all for today, and that's the end of the final Making Waves podcast for 2009. We're going to take a holiday break.

Don't forget that you can get links for all of the stories we discussed today in our show notes at

And that's also where you head if you have any questions about this week's podcast, about the National Ocean Service, or about our ocean. And if you want, you can also send us an email at We would love to hear from you.

Let's bring in the ocean....

This is Making Waves from NOAA's National Ocean Service. See you next year.