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Science of Oil Spills (SOS) Classes

A group of students work together during an SOS class.

Science of Oil Spills (SOS) classes help spill responders increase their understanding of oil spill science when analyzing spills and making risk-based decisions. They are designed for new and mid-level spill responders. These multi-day trainings cover topics including:

  • Fate and behavior of oil spilled in the environment.
  • An introduction to oil chemistry and toxicity.
  • A review of basic spill response options for open water and shorelines.
  • Spill case studies.
  • Principles of ecological risk assessment.
  • A field trip.
  • An introduction to damage assessment techniques.
  • Determining cleanup endpoints.

Most examples provided in the class relate to oil spills that have occurred in coastal and marine environments; however, much of this information applies regardless of the spill location (e.g., inland vs. coastal). To view the topics for the next SOS class, download a sample agenda [PDF, 170 KB].

Where and When

SOS classes are held 2-4 times per year in different regions of the United States. One course per year is held in the spring or summer at NOAA's Western Regional Center in Seattle.

The OR&R training team is working to set dates and locations for SOS classes for fiscal year 2021. As of February 25, 2021, we can confirm the following classes:

  • Seattle, Washington, the week of September 20-24, 2021: The Seattle class previously scheduled for the week of June 21 has been rescheduled to the fall. We will announce the opening of the application period for the Seattle class on our social media channels (FacebookTwitter) and our monthly newsletter (subscribe).
  • Annapolis, Maryland, the week of October 18-22, 2021: The application period for this class will be June 1 - August 5, 2021. Applicants will be advised of their acceptance status the week of August 23.

NOTE: There are many concerns over COVID-19 worldwide, including travel restrictions. We are monitoring the situation closely and will be keeping you updated if something changes with regard to these classes. As of February 25, 2021, we are proceeding with the classes as planned.

Accepted applicants will be sent an email containing information about hotel accommodations in the area, a map and directions to the class location, and information regarding the field trip and other logistics.

Please understand that SOS classes are not filled on a first-come, first-served basis. We try to diversify the participant composition to ensure a variety of perspectives and experiences, to enrich the class for the benefit of all participants. Classes are generally limited to 40 participants, to allow for personalized instruction.

Application Form

There is no tuition for SOS classes; however, attendees are responsible for their own travel costs.

Online Application: The online application form will be available during the application period for each scheduled SOS class.

If you experience any problems with the submission of your application, please send us an email.

Questions:  Review our page, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about SOS Classes. You're also welcome to contact us with questions, comments, or suggestions about SOS classes.

Stay Updated: If you'd like to receive updates about our activities and events, including future SOS classes, you can do that in these ways:

Go back to the Workshops page.

Last updated Thursday, February 25, 2021 4:13pm PST