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New Response Guide for a Difficult Challenge in Oil Spill Response

APRIL 6, 2020 — OR&R’s Emergency Response Division has completed a guidance document to help oil spill responders and planners better manage sunken (or submerged) oil mats, known as SOMs. SOMs can form near the shoreline under a range of circumstances and present unique and difficult challenges in oil spill response.

The response guide examines how SOMs have formed in a variety of marine, estuarine, and fresh water environments. It reviews a collection of spill incidents that included SOMs, among them the T/V Alvenus at Galveston Island, Texas in 1984; the T/V Erika off the coast of Brittany, France, in 1984; oil from an unknown source near Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, in 2000; and the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The report also reviews: factors for the formation of these oil deposits, survey methods to detect them, and effective methods to recover them—all of which will allow OR&R to better predict, locate, and remove this unusual type of oiling.

The guide was developed by Research Planning, Inc. (RPI), with the support of Fisheries and Oceans Canada under their Multi-partner Research Initiative (MPRI). In the near future, Dr. Jacqui Michel of Research Planning, Inc. will present a virtual overview of the report to OR&R scientists.

A Response Guide for Sunken Oil Mats (SOMs): Formation, Behavior, Detection and Recovery

For further information, contact Carl.Childs@noaa.gov.

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Last updated Apr. 13, 2020