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The development of dispersant use guidelines and decision-making criteria are complex interagency activities. The use of dispersants as an oil spill response option in United States' waters occurs as the result of a decision process established by the National Contingency Plan (NCP), a federal regulation. The NCP requires a recommendation from the federal predesignated On-Scene Coordinator (OSC) to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) representative to the Regional Response Team (RRT). The recommendation is simultaneously made to State RRT representative(s) whenever state(s') waters are affected. The approval necessary for dispersant use is concurrence with the OSC's recommendation by the EPA RRT representative and, as appropriate, the State RRT representative(s). The U.S. Departments of Commerce (DOC) and the Interior (DOI) have related authorities and are also RRT member agencies. The NCP recommends that EPA and state RRT representatives consult with their DOC and DOI counterparts, as appropriate, during the decision process. Such consultation may become mandatory following a pending revision of the NCP, and where federal trusteeship interests are involved.
contingency plans, decision processes, dispersants, oil spills
Chief, Pollution Response Branch, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, DC