The US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) recently released a report on the state-of-the-science of chemical dispersant use in the marine environment. The Use of Dispersants in Marine Oil Spill Response relies heavily on risk assessment work conducted by an expert team from our Portland, Main, office: Senior Managing Consultant Michael Bock, Principal Richard Wenning and Managing Consultant Hilary Robinson.
Funded by the American Petroleum Institute (API), the Ramboll expert team calculated the likely environmental consequences of chemical dispersant use relative to deploying other oil spill response technologies in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The work, conducted in collaboration with US consultancies RPS and SEA Consulting, aimed to build on lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to improve future oil spill preparedness.
“Our work promotes a scientific method for looking at the benefits and consequences of different oil spill response options,” Bock explains. “It relies on environmental modelling and calculations to derive an index for comparing different oil spill response actions, with the aim to reduce reliance on professional judgment and promote a more objective, science-based risk scoring approach.”
Because each oil spill presents unique circumstances and challenges, the report notes that dispersants are one of a variety of options – each with advantages and disadvantages – available to responders. In evaluating trade-offs and making choices about dispersants and other response options, the NASEM report advocates the use of net environmental benefit analysis (NEBA) tools, such as the Ramboll-developed CRA tool, to assess the comparative environmental benefits and drawbacks of various oil spill response options.
Read Ramboll's Comparative Risk Assessment of Oil Spill Reponse Options for a Deepwater Oil Well Blowout.