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Pure Appl. Chem., 1999, Vol. 71, No. 1, pp. 5-16

Time Window-of-Opportunity Strategies for Oil Spill Planning and Response

Atle B. Nordvik

Environmental Marine Technology & Associates, 2230 Central Avenue, Vienna VA 22182

This paper presents an integrated scientific and engineering strategy to improve and bring planning and decision-making for marine oil spill response to a higher level of knowledge. The most efficient, environmentally preferred, and cost effective spill response is dependent on the following factors: chemistry of the spilled product, quantity, location, response time, environmental conditions, and effectiveness of available response technologies at various degrees of oil weathering.
Time windows is a highly targeted process, in which the selection of response technologies will be more efficient, cost effective, technically correct, and environmentally sensitive and appropriate. The strategy integrates dynamic oil weathering data and performance effectiveness data for oil spill response technologies derived from laboratory, mesoscale, and experimental field studies. Performance data has been developed from a wide range of viscosities of different weathering stages of transported oils into a dynamic oil weathering database to identify and estimate time periods, called "technology windows-of-opportunity." In these windows, specific response methods, technologies, equipment, or products are more effective during clean-up operations for specific oils. The data bases represent the state of the art for response technologies and research in oil spill response.
The strategy provides a standard foundation for rapid and cost effective oil spill response decision-making, and is intended for use by local, state, federal agencies, response planners, clean up organizations (responders), insurance companies, tanker owners, and transporters. It provides policy, planners and decision-makers with a scientifically based and documented "tool" in oil spill response that has not been available before.