SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1984

Treatment of Oil Spill Fire Hazards with Chemical Dispersants: A Case History


Federal contingency plans include the use of chemical dispersants to ameliorate hazardous situations caused by spills of flammable or explosive petroleum products. The closing of the Williamsburg Bridge in New York City, when a gasoline tanker exploded and sank under it, was nearly overshadowed by the leakage of 7 750 000 L (2 000 000 gal) of gasoline from a storage facility in Boston. The threat to a densely populated neighborhood of six-family tenement houses and a large racetrack that stabled hundreds of Thoroughbred horses led to the use of a chemical dispersant to neutralize the fire hazard. Favorable results by fire departments in recent years, as a result of training, have established dispersants as the method of choice to handle nonburning spill incidents. Even though the teams that responded to several such emergencies of course held the protection of life and property as paramount, no toxicological environmental effects were noted during subsequent observations.

Author Information

Kaufmann, S
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Developed by Committee: F20
Pages: 166–174
DOI: 10.1520/STP30236S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-4906-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-0400-6