Ixtoc I oil spill- the damage assessment program and ecological impact.
On June 3, 1979, the Ixtoc I well blew out in the Bay of Campeche, Mexico. Before the well was capped on March 23, 1980, approximately 3.3 million of the estimated 140 million barrels (bbl) of spilled oil impacted the South Texas coast. This event activated U.S. response and cleanup activities that are authorized and organized under the National Contingency Plan (NCP). A formal plan to assess damage from waterborne pollutants did not exist before this spill. Therefore, an ad hoc committee with representatives from private institutions, industries, universities, and state and federal agencies with primary responsibilities or interest in resource protection was formed to develop the scientific approach and management structure for the damage assessment plan that was developed during this crisis situation. The purpose of this paper is to describe the formation of an ad hoc interagency damage assessment organization, to outline the concept and goal of the comprehensive Ixtoc I Damage Assessment Program, and to describe the implementation of the monitoring phase of this program. The paper also offers specific recommendations for future damage assessment endeavors.