The first issue with current oil spill response thinking is that rapid response
is neither enabled nor encouraged. This flies in the face of reality - local first responders
will ALWAYS respond immediately to a spill of gasoline, diesel oil, heating fuel, crude oil, etc.,
even if ill-prepared.
Protecting their community, family and friends is what they do. Rather than ignoring
this reality, we need to equip first responders appropriately with training, materials and equipment.
The second issue with current oil-spill response is the mistaken belief that the current set of
standard tools is adequate. It is not.
In situ burning (ISB) requires good weather, full daylight,
low winds and application of accelerant (more hydrocarbon pollution) in order to turn
spilled oil on water contamination into soot and air pollution. This soot is now
accelerating glacial and polar ice melt (dark snow).
Booms are effective only where water currents are
less than 0.75 knots, waves are less than 2 feet high (swell to trough), winds are calm and
ice is not present (U.S. Coast Guard training manual).
Small disc / brush / drum skimmers frequently have to be adjusted to the different
types of oil encountered, and do not work well on thin films of oil (the typical
situation when spilled oil has a chance to spread).
Dispersants - like Corexit EC9500A which was used in large quantities in the Gulf
of Mexico in 2010 after the DeepWater Horizon explosion and blow-out create long-term
health and environmental issues, including reducing the presence of naturally-occurring
Better tools, pre-deployed with trained local first responders to enable rapid response
will result in better outcomes than the current tiered response approach favoured by the
And while we're discussing solutions, some of the tools ROSCUE represents can be used
to remove floating algae blooms and plastic pollution as well as spilled oil.