26. Oil Spill Dispersant Application Policy

As a general rule, dispersant chemicals should only be applied to oil spills as a measure of last resort. First, every effort must be made to recover the oil from the environment before dispersants are used. Dispersants applied to the natural environment should be treated as a pollutant, even though it is intended to minimize the negative effects of another pollutant (oil), and its use, therefore, should be penalized with a fine for each unit of dispersant used. Dispersants merely disperse the oil throughout the water column making its ultimate recovery more difficult and threatening the ecosystems throughout the entire water column rather than merely threaten those of the surface and shorelines if dispersants were not used. Ideally, determinations should be made, ahead of time, on how to deal with various degrees of oil spills in specific environments so that when an accident does occur, time is not wasted in trying to figure out the right response.

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