New plan for using dispersants in Alaska is in effect

The Alaska Regional Response Team, or ARRT, established a new plan earlier this year for how oil spill dispersants, an alternative oil spill response option, would be used during an oil spill. The ARRT is a group of federal and state agencies that share responsibilities for managing oil and chemical spill responses in Alaska. Mechanical response, such as booms and skimmers that actually remove oil from the water, is the priority response option by state and federal law. The new plan was effective January 27, 2016, although parts of the plan will not go into effect until 2018. Details of new plan The new plan describes two different processes for dispersant use. Dispersants will be “preauthorized” in certain areas, and all other areas are “undesignated.” A new “preauthorization area” will go into effect in 2018. This area extends from 24 nautical miles offshore out to 200 nautical miles offshore (approximately 27.6 to 230 miles), south of Alaska’s mainland through the Aleutian chain. The ARRT’s rationale is that preauthorizing, or deciding before an oil spill occurs where chemical dispersants are allowed, could speed up response time. In the preauthorized area, dispersants are considered to be approved by government agencies before an oil spill happens. Therefore, the U.S. Coast Guard, as federal on scene coordinator, can decide to apply dispersants to a crude oil spill. Areas farther than 200 nautical miles from shore are international waters, and are not part of this plan. … Continue reading

Environmental Protection Agency revising rules on oil spill dispersants

By Joe Banta Council Project Manager The Environmental Protection Agency is updating the rules for using chemicals, including dispersants, to respond to oil spills in the United States. This update is intended to address the concerns that arose during and after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. During that disaster, an estimated 210 million gallons of oil was spilled, and over 1.8 million gallons of dispersants were applied to the spill. Dispersants are chemicals applied to spilled oil to try to break down the oil into small particles with the hope that these particles disperse into the water column rather than remain floating on the surface in a slick. … Continue reading

EPA wants your comments on proposed changes for using chemical dispersants during oil spills

Published 4/14/2015: The Environmental Protection Agency is updating the rules for using chemicals, including dispersants, when responding to oil spills in the United States. The update is intended to address the concerns which arose after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. During that disaster, an estimated 210 gallons of oil was spilled, and over 1.8 million gallons of dispersants were applied to the spill. The EPA is seeking public comments on these proposed changes. The council thinks that this opportunity to comment on these changes is a rare and important event, and we would like to encourage you to add your voice to the public comments. To help you understand the issues and provide your own comments, the council has prepared an overview of our comments.  … Continue reading