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Oil spill control chemicals are still a subject of considerable contention in many parts of the world. Because of the reactions raised by news of oil spills, their potential effects, and the methods used in their control and cleanup, a body of misinformation and misunderstanding about these chemicals and their use has accumulated. Further, there are honest differences of opinion between and among various manufacturers, regulatory agencies, environmental groups, and users.
This paper attempts to provide a basis for further discussion by examining the current status of oil spill chemicals under five categories: definition of terms, classification of products, the mode of action of various-type chemicals, potential ecotoxicity, and the application methods required to obtain optimum results.
The term “oil spill control chemical,” as used herein, includes dispersants, collecting agents, shoreline protection chemicals, and post-spill cleaners. Dispersants are further categorized depending on the solvent type used or on the recommended method of use. The concept of chemical dose per unit area is suggested as most realistic for development of application systems based on the mode of action of various chemicals, and for tests to determine their efficiency and toxicity. Boat and aerial dispersant spray systems are examined in detail to emphasize critical design criteria and to identify limitations.
oil spill chemicals, dispersants, evaluation, application methods, spray systems, toxicity, oils
Exxon Chemical Company, Houston, Tex.