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Raw Incident Data

A machine-readable version of the incident data is available a CSV text file. You can use this to do historical research or statistics.

On this page you can download a machine-readable version of the incident data shown in this website. It covers selected oil spills off US coastal waters and other incidents where NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) provided scientific support for the spill response. Some older records between 1957 and 1984 come from third-party databases. We hope that researchers and other interested members of the public will find this information useful.


The download size is approximately two megabytes.

Archive owner: Emergency Response Division, Office of Response and Restoration, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (USA). The contents are in the public domain; there is no copyright restriction.

We welcome your feedback at Please let us know if you find the data useful, or if you'd prefer a different format or other kinds of spill data. We may or may not be able to comply with your request, but we'd like to know what users are looking for in any case.

File format

The download is a text file in CSV (comma-separated values) format. It can be imported into most spreadsheet programs or databases.

Each row is an incident. The order is most recent to oldest, and secondarily by name.

The file is in the UTF-8 character set with Excel formatting conventions. Null values are represented by "" (an empty cell). Boolean values are represented by "1" (true) and "0" (false). Dates are in "YYYY-MM-DD" format. Embedded newlines in text fields are replaced by a vertical tab character (ctrl-K, \v, 0xb) because a few programs mistake them for end-of-record markers.


id (integer)
Our incident ID.
open_date (date)
The date OR&R was notified of the spill. (For pre-1985 spills from third-party databases, the spill date in the source database.)
name (text)
Incident name.
location (text)
Incident location. Usually "City, State".
lat (float)
Latitude. Positive is north, negative is south. Value may be approximate.
lon (float)
Longitude. Positive is east, negative is west. Value may be approximate.
threat (text)
The primary threat: "Oil", "Chemical", or "Other". "Oil" means an oil spill. "Chemical" means a chemical or biological agent spill. "Other" means some other kind of incident.
tags (text)

The tags assigned to the incident. These are mostly causes (what caused the incident). The current list of tags are:

  • Adrift
  • Collision
  • Coral
  • Derelict
  • Grounding
  • Historic Wreck
  • Hurricane
  • Marine Debris
  • Marine Mammal
  • Mystery Substance
  • Pipeline
  • Railcar
  • Search + Rescue
  • Tsunami
  • Wellhead

Multiple tags are delimited by a pipe symbol (|).

commodity (text)
The item spilled. (Freeform text.)
is_measure_skim (boolean)
True if On-Water Recovery (skimming) was used as a countermeasure.
is_measure_shore (boolean)
True if Shoreline Cleanup was used as a countermeasure.
is_measure_bio (boolean)
True if Bioremediation was used as a countermeasure.
is_measure_disperse (boolean)
True if Dispersants were used as a countermeasure.
is_measure_burn (boolean)
True if In-Situ Burning was used as a countermeasure.
max_ptl_release_gallons (float)

Maximum potential release in gallons. This may be a known quantity or the upper bound of a minimum-maximum estimate. Note that different commodities have different toxicities and reaction characteristics, so 10,000 gallons of one material may be more significant than 10,000 gallons of another.

Blank values indicate that the potential release is unknown or can't be converted to gallons. As of May 2016, 2% of the releases were reported in a mass unit (e.g., pounds) that can't be converted to gallons because the database doesn't know the commodity's density.

posts (integer)
Number of posts in IncidentNews.
description (text)
Text description of the incident.

Data format changelog

  • 2016-08-10: IncidentNews 3.0 release. The CSV format was changed significantly.
    • Moved 'open_date' to the second column to make the sort order clearer.
    • Replaced 'cause' and 'other_cause' with 'tags'. Tags are a new categorization of causes and expandable to other kinds of tags.
    • Replaced 'is_type_oil', 'is_type_bio', and 'is_type_other' with 'threat'. This is a consolidated text field giving the same information.
    • Replaced 'max_release_gallons' with 'max_ptl_release_gallons'. The value is now the maximum potential release rather than actual. The potential release guides our response effort, while the actual release is often not available.
    • Replaced 'activity' with 'posts'. This is now the number of posts in IncidentNews rather than an arbitrary amount of effort.
    • Deleted 'is_overflights'. It was an indirect way to distinguish large vs small spills.
  • 2013-02-01: IncidentNews 2.0 release. The CSV export is a separate file at a different URL. The SQLite format and ZIP file are no longer available. The "open_date" field is now the date OR&R; was notified of the spill rather than the spill date. (See the field description above for details.) The other fields are unchanged.
  • 2011-05-06: Initial release.