• Effectiveness, environmental pathways and operational readiness of OP-40 chemical herder when used in conjunction with in-situ burning for oil spill reponse in the offshore Arctic

      Bullock, Robin J.; Perkins, Robert A.; Aggarwal, Srijan; Schnabel, William; Barnes, David; Allen, Alan (2021-05)
      The Arctic is the northern most part of the Earth, and within Alaska (United States), is home to approximately 10,000 people, the majority of which are indigenous populations. It contains some of the largest reserves of natural resources and the most extensive and continuous wilderness areas in the world. As the Earth's climate changes, so does the Arctic and its economy, its commercial opportunities as well as the associated risks. One such risk is the unintentional release of oil into the offshore Arctic environment from resource extraction, commercial fishing, tourism or marine shipping. Oil spills in this environment prove damaging to the marine population, as well as logistically challenging given the remote landscape, harsh temperatures, ice cover and difficult working conditions. The primary oil spill response methods are mechanical recovery, chemical dispersion, and/or in-situ burning. Regarding possible spills in Arctic seawaters, the choice of response option depends on ice cover, along with other factors. In-situ burning is a possible primary response option if the oil slick is thick enough to sustain burning and may be one of the few options available for use in ice-covered waters. Chemical agents, known as thickening agents or "herders", may enhance the opportunities for in-situ burning by temporarily thickening of the oil slick in order to sustain a burn. With careful evaluation of the physical and chemical processes involved with herder application and subsequent burning and their ultimate fate within the environment; industry, government, Alaska native and other interested parties would be better able to assess the usefulness of this response option and judge the safety and effectiveness of herder use in the Arctic, as well as estimate its effects on the environment.