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API PUBL 4558

1995 Edition, February 1, 1995

Complete Document

Options for Minimizing Environmental Impacts of Freshwater Spill Response



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Product Details:

  • Revision: 1995 Edition, February 1, 1995
  • Published Date: February 1995
  • Status: Active, Most Current
  • Document Language: English
  • Published By: American Petroleum Institute (API)
  • Page Count: 145
  • ANSI Approved: No
  • DoD Adopted: No

Description / Abstract:

1.1 SCOPE AND PURPOSE

Selecting appropriate oil spill protection, recovery, and cleanup techniques, before and following an oil spill, is a critical element affecting the ultimate environmental impact and cost resulting from a spill. It is important to identify techniques that in themselves have minimal intrinsic ecological impact and are also effective in reducing the impact of the oil. Furthermore, these response techniques should be considered before a spill, so that little time needs to be spent preparing for the response during a spill.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) jointly developed this guide as a tool to help contingency planners and field responders evaluate response techniques and choose those that will most effectively prevent or minimize adverse ecological impact. Information is provided to help select response techniques for specific Combinations of habitat and oil types. Each technique is evaluated individually for a specific habitat; however, during spill response more than one technique may be used at the same time on one or more habitats.

The discussions in this guide reflect primarily the assessment of the environmental impact of the response methods. This guide also recognized that the selected techniques should be effective. They must remove a significant amount of oil from the environment or prevent or reduce oil impact, and they must have acceptable impact on the habitat as compared to leaving the oil alone (natural recovery). Prolonged use of an inefficient technique may be more ecologically detrimental than short-term use of a potentially more intrusive approach (e.g., frequent entry into a marsh to replace sorbents rather than vacuuming pooled oil).

Reducing the overall ecological impact of a spill event is the primary concern of this guide, and it is applicable for inland, freshwater environments and habitats only. This guide does not address land-only, chemical, or marine spills. It also does not discuss legal or regulatory issues; safety considerations; or guidance on planning, organizing, and conducting a spill response effort. The manual may be customized for specific geographic areas to address special priorities and concerns.

Specific spill conditions will often dictate the response techniques used, and selection always involves tradeoffs. For example, a potentially ecologically damaging, but efficient, cleanup technique could be used to meet site-specific response goals. Also, techniques may be used early in response simply because they can be implemented immediately, rather than waiting until ones with lower impact can be mobilized. A method that has a significant short-term ecological impact, such as in situ burning, may actually produce the lowest long-term ecological impact because it removes the oil quickly.