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Tank Barge Bouchard 120

Location: Buzzards Bay off Westport, Mass.
Date: April 27, 2003

Lat./Long.: 41°29'22.10"N, 70°59'17.80"W
Material spilled: No. 6 fuel oil
Amount spilled: approx. 98,000 gallons
Spill extent: more than 90 miles of shoreline

Location: Buzzards Bay off Westport, Mass.
Date: April 27, 2003

Lat./Long.: 41°29'22.10"N, 70°59'17.80"W
Material spilled: No. 6 fuel oil
Amount spilled: approx. 98,000 gallons
Spill extent: more than 90 miles of shoreline

On April 27, 2003, the tank barge Bouchard 120 was delivering oil to a power plant on the Cape Cod Canal when it passed on the wrong side of a navigational marker at the entrance of Buzzards Bay and struck rocks south of Westport, Mass. The resulting 12-foot gash on the bottom of the hull released an estimated 98,000 gallons of Number 6 fuel oil into the water.

A large portion of the released oil washed ashore at Barneys Joy beach in Dartmouth the next day, but because of shifting winds and rough seas in the days following the spill, oil continued to wash ashore for more than two weeks, eventually oiling more than 90 miles of shoreline.

Early research showed that several groups of hydrocarbon compounds were initially lost to evaporation, water washing, and microbial degradation. Degradation of oil, however, appeared to stall in the first six months after the initial breakup.

Red shading shows where oil from the Bouchard 120 spill washed up on the shoreline of Buzzards Bay. Researchers from WHOI have used the marshes and beaches at Wild Harbor, Nyes Neck, and Winsor Cove to conduct intensive studies of the short- and long-term impact of oil on the coastal environment. (Illustration by Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
The barge Bouchard 120. (Photo by Kevin Mingora, Cape Cod Times)
Bouchard 120 Oil Spill Nyes Neck Beach Sample, May 9, 2003 (Chromatography by Robert Nelson, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)