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The OSC must choose the best method from the available response tools in any incident. The physical recovery and removal of oil is the preferred cleanup technique. Under certain conditions, however, chemical agents can be an effective tool. If chemical use is considered, the guidelines below are intended to aid the OSC in making a decision.
EPA has compiled the NCP Product Schedule, a list of dispersants and other chemicals which the OSC and/or PRP may consider for use during a spill emergency. The Product Schedule does not authorize or pre- approve use of any of the listed products. Use of dispersants or other oil emulsifiers is not pre-approved anywhere in Region 5 and is not likely to be allowed because of the limited dilution available in fresh waters, the use of freshwaters as a water supply, the limited toxicology information available for dispersants in fresh water, and the limited information available as to fresh water effectiveness of dispersants. The OSC may not authorize use of a product that is not listed on the Product Schedule.
Sinking agents shall not be used in EPA Region 5. EPA Region 5 does not promote the use of dispersants or other oil emulsifiers as they do not work in fresh water.
The use of
- surface collecting agents
- biological additives
- burning agents
- miscellaneous oil spill control agents
on surface waters, particularly near sensitive wetland or water supplies (fresh water systems) must be approved by State and/or Federal Agencies. Such use adds to the potential for serious impact of already released petroleum products. This stance is necessary to protect subsurface water intakes (potable and non-potable).
The Region does recognize, however, that as a last resort, such agents may have some limited applicability. An example of a situation in which chemical use might be considered for reasons other than protection of human life is during the migratory season, when significant migratory bird or endangered species populations are in danger of becoming oiled.
18.104.22.168. Application Steps for Use of Chemical Spill Control Agent
The OSC may authorize or is authorized to use any chemical product without concurrence of the R5 EPA representative to RRT5 when its use is necessary to prevent or substantially reduce a hazard to human life. The RRT should be notified as soon as practicable. In situations where a human hazard is not present, the OSC must receive the concurrence of
- the RRT Co-Chair, and
- the RRT representative(s) of the affected State(s), in consultation with
- the DOI RRT member (and, where the Great Lakes are affected, the DOC RRT member, where practicable)
before authorizing use of a listed product.
The OSC may consult with the NOAA or EPA Scientific Support Coordinator (SSC) prior to chemical agent application in EPA Region 5. The NOAA and EPA SSCs provide oil spill modeling results, interpretation of ESI maps, location of sensitive areas, chemical effects, and environmental risks.
The OSC will coordinate with RRT5 to authorize use of chemical agents on behalf of the responsible party. Use of chemical agents on a Regional boundary should include the appropriate RRT members of the bordering Region. The RRT shall be notified of any chemical agent use as soon as practicable.
Section 300.910 of the NCP requires RRTs and ACs to address the use of dispersants and other chemicals in planning activities and include applicable preauthorization plans that address the specific contexts in which substances and devices listed on the NCP Product Schedule should and should not be used.
Subject to the following conditions, RRT5 has authorized the use of socks, booms, pads, pillows or other devices which completely surround and contain one of the solidifier products listed on the NCP Product Schedule: ALSOCUP, Aqua N-CAP Polymer, CIAgent, WASTE-SET #3200, WASTE-SET #3400:
- Application of the solidifier product must be done in a manner that does not allow the solidifier product to be released from the sock, boom, pad or pillow; and
- The sock, boom, pad or pillow is not left in the environment for more than one week after contact with the oil; and
- The sock, boom, pad or pillow must be recovered from the water within one week of contact with oil or depletion of solidifying capacity and properly disposed of.
This preauthorization does not include preapproved use in Tribal or Department of Interior managed lands. The preauthorization does not apply to the above listed chemicals if they no longer remain on the NPC Product Schedule.
Solidifier preauthorization documents can be found in Appendix VIII.
22.214.171.124 Chemical Use Checklist
The OSC/RPM will supply the appropriate members of the RRT with the information contained in the Chemical Use Checklist. The checklist provides information concerning the circumstances of the spill, trajectories, environmental resources at risk, and available decision makers with the information necessary to make a decision on the use of chemical agents.