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Oil Spills of 1969-87


Santa Barbara Channel Blowout, January 30, 1969 Photograph courtesy of Ronald L. Kolpack, Univ. Southern California.

1969-72: Santa Barbara Channel Blowout, January 28, 1969. Sediment hydrocarbon analyses; mass balance.

1973: T/V ZOE COLOCOTRONI, Puerto Rico, March 18, 1973. Damage assessment methodology for Puerto Rico on remand; case settled 1980.

1975: T/V GARBIS, Florida Keys, July 18, 1975. Fingerprinting; biological effects.

1976: Unknown source, Florida Keys, 1976. Wind, current, oil velocities; thickness.  Natural seeps, Santa Barbara Channel, 1976-78. Training oil spill observers.  Barge STC-101, Chesapeake Bay, February 1976. Damage assessment methodology for United States at trial; case settled.

T/V Argo Merchant on Nantucket Shoals, December 17, 1976 Photograph by Elaine Chan, NOAA Spilled Oil Research Team

1976-77: T/V ARGO MERCHANT, Nantucket Shoals, December 15, 1976. Dr. Mattson was the Chief Scientist, of the NOAA/USCG Spilled Oil Response Team, which spent several weeks on Cape Cod, making physical observations and assessing impacts. A complete report on this effort will be posted in the near future, once it is scanned into a pdf file

Atigun Pass Spill, Brooks Range, Alaska, February 10, 1979, Photograph by John Janssen, Alaska DEC

1979-80: IXTOC I offshore well, Bay of Campeche, Mexico, 6/3/79-3/27/1980. Dr. Mattson, who was then the marine scientist — and Congressional liaison — staff member for the National Advisory Committee on Oceans & Atmosphere (NACOA), spent much of the summer of 1979 organizing a cruise into the oil spill by NOAA’s research vessel, the R/V RESEARCHER. NACOA had agreed to allow Dr. Mattson to participate in the cruise as its Chief Scientist, but, at the last minute, the NOAA Deputy Administrator removed Dr. Mattson from the Chief Scientist position because he had successfully lobbied members of Congress to get a research vessel into the Gulf of Mexico during the 9-month spill. The RESEARCHER cruise was not one of NOAA’s finest moments, and little, if anything, was learned from the cruise — particularly because the NOAA officers refused to take the ship anywhere near the oil — that covered 50% of the Gulf of Mexico at one time.

1981-83: Trans-Alaska Pipeline, Atigun Pass, Alaska, June 1979. In 1981, two years after the spill, Dr. Mattson, Dr. Erich Gundlach, and others, were retained to determined the volume of oil spilled, and short-term impacts, for litigation by Doug Mertz. The scientific team developed one of the earliest damage assessment methodologies for Alaska’s litigation. The pipeline operator settled in 1983 for a $300,000 penalty plus cleanup costs.

1980: Tank farm, Long Island, New York, 1980. Dr. Mattson conducted field investigations, and testified as an expert witness at a US Coast Guard hearing, for the alleged polluter The case was dismissed.

1983: Waste oil pits, North Slope, Alaska, 1983. Dr. Mattson and John Janssen, of the Alaska DEC, conducted field investigations at Prudhoe Bay, and made volume estimates to assess administrative penalties.

1983: Underground gasoline spill (Q Trucking), Nome, Alaska, 1983-85. Dr. Mattson, Alaska DEC’s John Janssen, and  Doug Mertz of the Alaska Attorney General’s office conducted field investigations for the State of Alaska. The State recovered $600,000 in cleanup costs from the federal government. Q Trucking settled in 1985.

1987: Diesel fuel discharge into mangroves, Plantation Key, Florida, 1987. Dr. Mattson represented defendant Blaylock Oil Co. in civil action brought by DER. $250,000 demand for natural resource damages settled for $15,000. Dr. Samuel Snedaker, of the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, was the expert witness on the spill’s effect on mangroves.

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