Council’s work on chemical oil-spill dispersants

Dispersants are chemical substances applied to spilled oil that disperse oil into the water column rather than leaving it floating on the surface in a slick.  This is similar to the effect of the use of soap on greasy dishes. Dispersant use is based on the concept of them dissolving the oil into droplets that will then dilute and spread out the oil and over a long time period allow microbial degradation to break down the hydrocarbons in the droplets.

Dispersants have been used extensively in the response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Our council has studied dispersants in great detail, including commissioning extensive research.

The above report outlined the non-mechanical response to the Exxon Valdez disaster.  The author consulted state and federal documents, as well as personal interviews to compile the facts surrounding the non-mechanical response to the incident.

At this link is a review of the literature on oil spill dispersants published from 1997 to 2008. The report identifies and focuses on advances in dispersant effectiveness, toxicity, and biodegradation. Other topics such as application, use, behavior and fate are also covered.

A database of dispersants research papers written between 1997-2012.  The council believes this is one of the most complete compilations of articles written on dispersant research.  Available in Excel and Google Doc format.

The above document is a list of observations, recommendations, and questions put together by the council’s Scientific Advisory Committee in the aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Oil Spill Dispersant Effects Research

Report by the National Academy of Sciences on the efficacy and effects of oil spill dispersants.  Key findings are summarized.

International Maritime Organization’s guidelines

The above link is to the International Maritime Organization’s guidelines on responding to oil spills, including guidelines on the use of dispersants.

Information on Corexit 9500 and 9527 (the most prevalent dispersants used in this country)

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for Dispersants:

Excerpt from the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan’s (NCP) Product Schedule Notebook discussing handling and special handling and worker precautions, toxicity, effectiveness, chemical and microbiological analysis, and physical properties:

Environmental Protection Agency