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The fate of Deepwater Horizon oil

Nearly five years after the Deepwater Horizon explosion led to the release of roughly 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, scientists are still working to answer the question: Where did all the oil go? During the 2010 crisis, some of the oil gushing from the seafloor appeared as slicks on the sea surface, while roughly half of it, scientists estimate, remained trapped in deep ocean plumes of mixed oil and gas, one of which was more than a mile wide, hundreds of feet high and extended for miles southwest of the broken riser pipe at the damaged Macondo well. Many natural processes—like evaporation and biodegradation—and human actions—like the use of dispersants and flaring of gas at the surface—impacted the chemical makeup and fate of the oil, adding to the complexity of accounting for it.  A paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides a piece of the puzzle, analyzing the oil that ended up on the seafloor, establishing its footprint, rough quantity and likely deposition mechanism, and pegging its source to that deep ocean plume of mixed oil and gas. “In 2010, we only considered that material flowing from the well ...

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Senior Arctic Officials discuss environmental protection in the Arctic

The Arctic Council Senior Arctic Officials and Heads of Delegation of indigenous Permanent Participant organizations held their third meeting under Canada’s Chairmanship, on October 22-23, 2014, in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental forum for cooperation on Arctic issues, bringing together representatives from the eight Arctic States and six Indigenous Permanent Participant organizations to discuss important issues related to sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. In Yellowknife, Senior Arctic Officials and Heads of Delegation of Permanent Participants heard from the Arctic Council’s six working groups and four task forces on the progress being made on the Arctic Council’s ambitious program, notably Canada’s Chairmanship priority initiatives. These priorities include: promoting mental wellness; incorporating traditional and local knowledge into the work of the Council; ensuring responsible economic development in the Arctic, including through the establishment of the Arctic Economic Council; and developing actions on black carbon and methane. The theme for Canada’s Chairmanship, which culminates in 2015, is ‘Development for the People of the North’. Some of the specific topics discussed at the meeting included: Oil pollution prevention and preparedness; Biodiversity assessment and conservation of Arctic migratory birds; Short- lived climate pollutants and actions to reduce black ...

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EMSA issues latest policies inventory regarding oil spill dispersants

EMSA issued the latest "Inventory of national policies regarding the use of oil spill dispersants in the EU". EMSA is tasked by Regulation (EC) No 2038/2006 to "draw up on a regular basis a list of the private and state pollution response mechanisms and response capabilities in the various regions of the European Union". In order to fulfil this task of providing accurate and up to date information in the EU and EFTA coastal Member States with regard to dispersants, EMSA contacts the respective Member States and prepares specific inventories such as the Inventory of national policies regarding the use of oil spill dispersants in the EU Member States. This inventory contains information for each Member State regarding: the national rules and regulations for usage of oil spill dispersants as an at-sea oil spill response method the testing and approval procedures for dispersants the equipment and stockpiles for dispersant application, including geographic information system (GIS) based maps.   Once oil has been spilled at sea, the primary goal of any response action is to mitigate the socio-economic and environmental impact by removing the spilled oil from the water surface as quickly as possible. The purpose of oil spill dispersants is to transfer the oil from the sea surface - in the form of very small droplets and ...

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Winding up of the 1971 Fund

Shipping industry concerns that the 1971 Fund should be  wound up by the end of 2014 notwithstanding that there remain outstanding claims against the 1971 Fund. Consider postponing the winding up of the 1971 Fund pending an orderly  resolution of the outstanding claims against the Fund.    ICS, BIMCO and  INTERTANKO have submitted a paper  highlighting the industry’s concerns with the approach taken by the Administrative Council in this regard and the consequences that it could have for the international liability and compensation regime for oil pollution damage arising from tanker incidents, as well as the impact that it could have on the co-operation that exists between industry, States and the Fund to ensure that claimants who suffer pollution damage receive prompt and adequate compensation. The shipping industry supports a deferral in the winding up of the 1971 Fund in order to allow for an orderly resolution of the outstanding claims against the 1971 Fund. The shipping industry recognises that the outstanding incidents are old cases and that the Administrative Council is seeking to resolve as many of the outstanding issues as possible in order to reach an agreement at its October 2014 session that the 1971 Fund should be dissolved by the ...

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OPA 90: Obligations when operating in the US

The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 established rigorous regulatory and liability controls to protect and clean up the marine environment from oil spills, including extensive provision to prevent the circumstances under which oil spills occur. OPA 9O increased federal authority to respond to oil spills and compensate for damage when spills occur in the United States. OPA 90 also requires owners and operators of evidence sufficient financial responsibility to cover potential liabilities under OPA 90. The US Pollution Risks publication by the UK P&I Club compiles summaries of all the Federal and state requirements on liability, COFR requirements and vessel contingency plan requirements. Legal Briefings provide an overview of certain laws and regulations. While every effort has been made to ensure their accuracy, it is only a guide and not a substitute for formal legal advice. This summary document was compiled by the UK Club's environmental team ledby Dr. Chao Wu and is one of a continuing series of publications which shares the legal expertise within the Club with its Members.  You can read more by clicking below In the outbreak, I was frank with you propecia before and after has changed my existence. It has become much more fun, and ...

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Contact Points for Reporting On Incidents Re Harmful Substances

The "List of national operational contact points responsible for the receipt, transmission and processing of urgent reports on incidents involving harmful substances, including oil from ships to coastal States" contained in IMO circular has been updated as of September 30th, 2014 including the following States: FAROES,DENMARK GEORGIA GUATEMALA ITALY PALAU PERU POLAND SAINT LUCIA SOLOMON ISLANDS SUDAN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES VENEZUELA (BOLIVARIAN REPUBLIC OF)   This information is provided by IMO to enable compliance with Regulation 37 of MARPOL Annex I which, inter alia, requires that the Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan (SOPEP) shall contain a list of authorities or persons to be contacted in the event of a pollution incident involving such substances. Requirements for oil pollution emergency plans and relevant oil pollution reporting procedures are contained in Articles 3 and 4 of the 1990 OPRC Convention. This information is also provided to enable compliance with Regulation 17 of MARPOL Annex II which, inter alia, requires that the shipboard marine pollution emergency plans for oil and/or noxious liquid substances shall contain a list of authorities or persons to be contacted in the event of a pollution incident involving such substances. In this context, requirements for emergency plans and reporting for hazardous and noxious substances are also contained in Article 3 of ...

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ExxonMobil conducts Prince William Sound oil spill drill

On 13th September, ITOPF travelled to the wilds of Alaska to participate in a large-scale, Tier 3, oil spill exercise organised by SeaRiver Maritime Inc., a subsidiary of ExxonMobil. The event drew together over 430 people from a wide range of organisations including; Aleyska Pipeline Service Company, Alaska Maritime Prevention and Response Network, Alaska Department of Fish & Game, US Coastguard, US National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Prince William Sound's Regional Citizen's Advisory Council, native tribal representatives and ExxonMobil's response teams. The exercise scenario imagined a release of some 200,000 barrels of crude oil from a tank vessel in the middle of Prince William Sound following a collision with a fish processing vessel. Following notification of an incident, oil spill response resources were dispatched rapidly to the spill site and a command centre set up in Valdez. Operations continued around the clock for the next 60 hours. "It is 25 years since the EXXON VALDEZ oil spill" noted ITOPF's Dr Mark Whittington, "and the development of oil spill response capability in Prince William Sound since then has been impressive. The professionalism and enthusiasm that all the exercise's participants - industry, government agencies and the local ...

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Aerial surveillance reduces illegal discharges in the Baltic Sea

​HELCOM's international aerial surveillance operation over the Northern Baltic Sea ended on September 10, 2014, despite thick fog at night time, 27 hours after the start. This year's Coordinated Extended Pollution Control Operation (CEPCO North) was organized by the Estonian Police and Border Guard and no oil spills or other discharges from ships were detected. "The operation involved four specially equipped aircraft from four countries - Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Sweden. More support was provided by three participating vessels as well as through satellite surveillance from the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). The weather conditions had a major effect to the operation due to unpredictable fog, but nevertheless the overall cooperation went smoothly", says Priit Pajusaar, CEPCO North 2014 coordinator and Police Captain from Estonian Police and Border Guard Board. Such high-intensity operations supplement the regular aerial control operations in the region which aim at creating a realistic picture of the level of compliance to the anti-pollution regulations in the Baltic area. The purpose is also to gather evidence of infringements and, if possible, to catch polluters red handed. "Pollution surveillance has a substantial preventive effect on the illegal oil discharges. All HELCOM states should ensure sufficient support and funds ...

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