Oil Spill Response FAQs

Oil Spill Response FAQs

When is oil spill response necessary?

Some degree of oil spill response is typically required for all oil spills. However, an evaluation may reveal that oil spill cleanup may cause more damage to the environment than allowing the spill to be cleaned up through natural recovery without intervention. Wind, wave patterns, sun, and other environmental factors may naturally break up and clean up certain types of oil spills.


Who responds to an oil spill?

A qualified oil spill response company will respond to an oil spill. Companies like ACME will be pre-qualified and have the necessary contracts in place with the responsible party prior to responding to a spill. ACME is a US Coast Guard approved Oil Spill Removal Organization (OSRO) ready to respond to emergency situations 24 hours a day. In event of a large scale spill, biologists and ecologists may be asked to assess the current and future impact of the environment.


How are animals cared for during oil spill response?

Affected wild life should only be cleaned and handled by trained professionals. Oil spills may affect a wide variety of aquatic species. Oiled animals are collected during the oil spill response and relocated to a safe, clean holding area. The animals are cleaned with specialized oil removing agents. Once cleaned, the animals’ health is monitored before they are deemed ready for release.


How long does the oil spill response last?

Every spill is different and therefore spills can last anywhere from a couple of hours to decades.


What are OSRO and how have they changed oil spill response procedures?

One of the largest changes to oil spill response involved the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. The OPA states that all vessel and facility owners must develop detailed oil spill response plans. In addition, the US Coast Guard began classifying Oil Spill Removal Organizations (OSRO) in order to help vessel and facility owners find classified oil spill response companies. Choosing an OSRO in the oil spill response plan relieves the vessel and facility owner from listing and/or owning the oil spill response equipment needed to cleanup a spill.


What methods are used during oil spill cleanup?

Most oil spill response efforts will involve the use of oil skimmers to remove oil from the water’s surface, but some large-scale oil spills may require additional cleanup methods. Chemical dispersants may be applied to break up a large oil slick, while oil consuming bacteria help naturally remove oil. For oil spills located away from marine life and human populations, in situ burning effectively eliminates oil.


What laws have been introduced involving oil spill response?

There have been many local laws that have come about due to oil spills. The most well-known national water protection laws are the Clean Waters Act of 1972, and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. Prior to 1990, the Clean Waters Act represented the main guidelines for oil spill response companies dealing with aquatic spills. After the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 was introduced as an amendment on the previous Clean Waters Act. This new law stated that companies must develop approved oil spill response and cleanup plans.