Abstract

Oil spills can result in significant environmental damages, particularly in highly sensitive and poorly accessible particularly in highly sensitive and poorly accessible tropical regions. The overall effects of spills can, however, be significantly reduced through proper prespill planning. In addition to facilitating effective response prior planning. In addition to facilitating effective response prior to the incident becoming too large to manage, such planning reduces the potential for misapplication of planning reduces the potential for misapplication of technologies and resultant unnecessary damage. Planning concepts discussed include development of Planning concepts discussed include development of realistic planning objectives (probable spill scenarios), spill trajectory and fate modeling, identification of sensitive areas, interpretation of persistence and impacts, and identification of environmentally acceptable response technologies. Procedures for environmental data collection and information handling are also addressed.

Introduction

Oil spills are unique events. No two spills are identical in their characteristics, behavior or appropriate response actions. Response to spill emergencies must be flexible and adaptable to local and changing conditions. It is possible, nonetheless, to develop an effective spill possible, nonetheless, to develop an effective spill response capability for a given situation or geographic area with some basic knowledge of the environment in question and the spill potential. The need for such pre-emergency planning is particularly important in remote pre-emergency planning is particularly important in remote tropical areas where complex and sensitive resources may be threatened.

Prespill planning should include identification of sensitive Prespill planning should include identification of sensitive areas and development of plans and response capability to suit the particular circumstances involved. Development of effective response procedures requires pre-spill knowledge of: pre-spill knowledge of:

  1. shoreline types, distribution, characteristics and processes;

  2. biological community types, distributions, characteristics and processes;

  3. sensitivities of biological communities to hydrocarbon contamination and oil spill response methods;

  4. locations and characteristics of other sensitiveresources (e.g. commercial, subsistence and sports fisheries, mariculture operations, cultural resources, harbors/marinas, and facilities including seawater intakes and discharges, wastewater outfalls, and pipelines);

  5. properties of petroleum products that may be spilled;

  6. probable spill behavior under local seasonal conditions (e.g. wind, current, tides and sea state);

  7. persistence of petroleum products in the environment;

  8. knowledge of available resources for use in response; and

  9. accessibility of threatened shores for a response.

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