[Federal Register: December 29, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 250)]
[Page 78456-78457]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 78456]]



 Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Intent To Conduct Restoration Planning for the Bradley 
Beach Mystery Spill of February 2004, Monmouth and Ocean Counties, NJ

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: The Secretary of the Interior has designated the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service (Service) to act on behalf of the U.S. Department of 
the Interior (DOI) as natural resource trustee (Trustee) with respect 
to the February 2004 oil spill in the Bradley Beach, NJ, area (the 
incident). The Service has determined that the impacts of the incident 
warrant conducting a natural resource damage assessment that will 
include restoration planning. The incident has been referred to by a 
number of names, including the Bradley Beach Mystery Spill, the 
Monmouth County Mystery Spill, the Monmouth and Ocean Counties Mystery 
Spill, the Brick Township Mystery Spill, and the Brick Township Tarball 
Mystery Spill.
    The DOI is hereby providing notice of efforts to plan restoration 
actions for injuries resulting from the incident. The purpose of this 
restoration planning is to evaluate potential injuries to natural 
resources and lost services and use that information to determine the 
need for and scale of restoration actions.

ADDRESSES: Clay Stern, Environmental Contaminants Branch, New Jersey 
Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 927 N. Main St., 
Pleasantville, NJ 08232.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Clay Stern, at 609-646-9310, extension 
27 (telephone), or clay_stern@fws.gov (e-mail), or address under 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On or about February 3, 2004, tar-balls and 
tar-patties that were chemically and physically consistent with a 
number 6 fuel oil began washing ashore from the Atlantic Ocean onto the 
South Mantoloking Beach in Brick Township, Ocean County, NJ. Within 24 
hours, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection--Bureau of 
Emergency Response had determined that Oil had impacted beaches from 
Monmouth Beach to Sea Girt in Monmouth County (approximately 15 miles), 
with the heaviest oiling centered around Bradley Beach, Monmouth 
County; minor oil impacts had occurred at South Mantoloking Beach in 
Ocean County; and oiled birds had been observed from Sea Bright in 
Monmouth County south to Island Beach State Park in Ocean County 
(approximately 40 miles). The U.S. Coast Guard determined that an 
``incident'' as defined by the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990 (33 
U.S.C. 2701 et seq.) had occurred and that the incident did not fall 
within the exclusionary conditions set forth in 33 U.S.C 2702(c). Since 
a responsible party has not been identified, the incident was 
federalized and assigned Federal Project Number P04006. The total 
quantity of the oil discharged was estimated at no more than 1,000 
    Immediately following notification of the incident, the Service 
initiated pre-assessment data collection activities, pursuant to OPA, 
to make an initial determination as to whether natural resources or 
services were injured or were likely to be injured by the discharge. 
More than 160 migratory birds, or parts thereof, were recovered during 
the initial spill response; spill response and bird recovery activities 
were coordinated. Although most of the birds were recovered within the 
first week after notification of the incident, the Service continued to 
recover oiled birds throughout February 2004.
    Findings from the pre-assessment efforts demonstrated that exposure 
to the incident-related oil caused the deaths of 73 birds, representing 
at least 16 species. Those birds are Federal trust resources protected 
under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, as amended (16 U.S.C. 701 
et seq.). The injured resources and their supporting habitats are under 
the trusteeship of the DOI.
    Under OPA, State and Federal agencies and Indian tribes are 
designated to act as natural resource trustees, responsible for 
assessing natural resource losses and restoring those losses to 
baseline conditions, i.e., the condition that would have existed had 
the incident not occurred. The Trustee for the Bradley Beach incident 
is the DOI, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Trustee is designated 
pursuant to 33 U.S.C. 2706(b), Executive Order 12777, and the National 
Contingency Plan, 40 CFR 300.600 and 300.605.
    In its role as the Natural Resource Trustee, the Service has made 
the following determinations required by 15 CFR 990.41(a):

    The Service, as Natural Resource Trustee, has jurisdiction to 
pursue restoration pursuant to OPA (33 U.S.C. 2702 and 2706(c)); 40 
CFR Part 300, and the OPA Natural Resource Damage Assessments 
Regulations, 15 CFR part 990.
    The discharge of oil in the Bradley Beach area and its environs 
on or about February 3, 2004, was an incident as defined in 15 CFR 
    Natural resources under the trusteeship of the DOI have been 
injured as a result of the incident. The oil discharged contains 
components that may be harmful to aquatic organisms, birds, wildlife 
and vegetation.

    In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard has notified the Trustee that:

    The discharge was not permitted under Federal, State, or local 
    The discharge was not from a public vessel.
    The discharge was not from an onshore facility subject to the 
Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authority Act of 1973 (43 U.S.C. 1651 et 

    Because the conditions of 15 CFR 990.41(a) were met, as described 
above, the Service made the further determination under 15 CFR 
990.41(b) to proceed with pre-assessment.
    For the reasons discussed below, the Service, as Trustee, has made 
the determination required by 15 CFR 990.42(a) and is providing notice 
pursuant to 15 CFR 990.44 that it intends to conduct restoration 
planning in order to develop restoration alternatives that will 
restore, replace, rehabilitate, or acquire the equivalent of natural 
resources injured and/or natural resource services lost as a result of 
this incident.
    Although response actions were pursued, the nature of the discharge 
and the sensitivity of the environment precluded prevention of injuries 
to some natural resources, such as migratory birds and their supporting 
habitats. The Service believes that injured natural resources could 
return to baseline through natural or enhanced recovery, but interim 
losses have occurred and will continue to occur until a return to 
baseline is achieved.
    There are a number of injury assessment methods available to the 
Trustee to evaluate the injuries and define the appropriate type and 
scale of restoration for the injured natural resources and services. 
These include, but are not limited to, literature reviews, field 
studies, laboratory studies, and modeling studies. These methods may be 
used alone or in combination. In order to scale restoration actions, 
the Service intends to prepare an injury assessment that integrates the 
degree and spatial and temporal extent of injury to estimate the total 
quantity of injury.
    Feasible direct and compensatory restoration actions exist to 
address injuries from this incident. Restoration actions that could be 
considered include, but are not limited to, restoration, enhancement, 
and/or acquisition of nesting or wintering habitat of the injured 

[[Page 78457]]

    Pursuant to 15 CFR 990.44(c), the Trustee will seek public 
involvement in restoration planning for this incident through public 
review of and comments on the draft restoration plan.
    Author: The primary author of this notice is Clay Stern.

    Authority: The authority for this action is the Oil Pollution 
Act of 1990 (33 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.) and implementing Natural 
Resource Damage Assessments Regulations found at 15 CFR part 990.

    Dated: October 24, 2006.
Richard O. Bennett,
Acting Regional Director, Region 5, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, DOI 
Authorized Official, U.S. Department of the Interior.
 [FR Doc. E6-22290 Filed 12-28-06; 8:45 am]