North Cape Oil Spill Restoration

Map of Rhode Island with oil spill site marked
Location of North Cape Oil Spill.

On January 19, 1996, the tug Scandia and barge North Cape, carrying 3.9 million gallons of two blends of No. 2 fuel oil, grounded off Moonstone Beach in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. Approximately 828,000 gallons of oil were released to coastal waters. With high winds and heavy wave action, the oil was carried into sediments and throughout the water column, spreading throughout Block Island Sound and South County coastal salt ponds. The spill resulted in the loss of:

  • 9 million lobsters
  • 364,000 kg of shellfish
  • 111,000 kg of fish
  • 2,100 seabirds
  • 5-10 piping plover chicks
  • 3,300 party-charter boat trips
  • recreational fishing for several months

In August 2000, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the State of Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (Trustees) reached a settlement agreement with the insurer of the companies responsible for the North Cape oil spill. As part of the settlement, the responsible party agreed to implement a lobster restoration project and to pay:

  • $1.6 million for salt pond land acquisition
  • $1.5 million for a multi-species shellfish restoration project
  • $3 million to purchase and protect loon nesting habitat
  • $400,000 to purchase and protect eider nesting habitat
  • $140,000 to manage and protect piping plover nesting habitat
  • $160,000 to implement an anadromousfish restoration project
  • $800,000 to oversee and monitor the lobster restoration project
Fact Sheets:


NOAA. Case: North Cape Oil Spill

State of Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. News Release - North Cape Oil Spill Trustees and Industry Successfully Complete North Cape Lobster Restoration Program (August 2006)

Last updated: February 13, 2013