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A biologist wearing gloves and protective boots collects a sample after an oil spill.
Information icon A biologist collects a sample after an oil spill. Photo by USFWS.

Environmental Contaminants

Man-made pollution remains one of the nation’s greatest environmental concerns. Our contaminant expertise extends to a variety of pollutants including pesticides, metals, petroleum products, and emerging contaminants such as: pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and insecticides. The Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office provides technical assistance to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and state agencies to ensure fish and wildlife and their habitat are adequately protected during and upon completion of cleanup efforts at Superfund sites, including the Vieques and Culebra National Wildlife Refuges.

Spill response

Oil or hazardous material spills can impact natural resources managed by the Service. The Service is the primary federal agency responsible for protecting endangered and threatened species; migratory birds; and certain fish, marine mammals, and nesting sea turtles. As a major federal landowner, the agency is also responsible for preparing for and responding to spills that may impact its National Wildlife Refuge System. Our spill response program emphasizes early contingency planning and coordination with other agencies in an effort to minimize injury to fish, wildlife, and habitats. The Service also provides emergency consultation under the Endangered Species Act to the Federal On Scene Coordinators (Coast Guard or EPA) during response actions to minimize impacts to listed species.


The Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) are authorized to conduct Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) when DOI trust resources (fish and wildlife, and their habitats, DOI lands) are harmed during oil and chemical spills. The Service helps restore natural resources following the release of oil and other hazardous substances. Specialists assess the injuries to natural resources entrusted to the Department. DOI representatives typically work with other natural resource trustees including other federal and state agencies.

Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI)

These maps for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands were developed to be used as a quick reference for the U.S. Coast Guard responses during oil spills events.

More information


Felix López, Caribbean Contaminants Program Coordinator, (787) 851-7440

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