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Science of Oil Spills Class Held in Seattle

JUNE 22, 2018 — During the week of June 18, OR&R’s Emergency Response Division team of oil spill scientists conducted a “Science of Oil Spills” (SOS) class at the Seattle NOAA campus.

Man shows a woman something on a table.
Class participants working on an exercise. Image credit: NOAA.

The class covered a wide range of oil spill response topics, including canine oil response and perspectives on international responses and included a field trip to Olympic Beach in Edmonds, Washington.

Classroom exercises demonstrated how viscosity, temperature, sediment, permeability, and porosity influence oil behavior on shorelines, and how oil disorders bird feather structure, impairing waterproofing and insulating properties. In addition to these exercises, students learned about the fate and behavior of oil spilled in the environment, oil chemistry and toxicity, how to use Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps, and gained insight into the complexity of environmental trade-offs associated with response options and cleanup endpoints.

The 38 class participants included representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, other federal, tribal, and state agencies, local government, and industry. SOS workshops are always in high demand in the oil spill response community, and this fiscal year was no exception.

For more information about upcoming SOS classes, contact

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Woman and man looking at something on a beach.
The class included a field trip to Olympic Beach, in Edmonds, Washington. Image credit: NOAA.
Last updated Jun. 14, 2019