Interagency Coordinating Committee on Oil Pollution Research
Advancing Spill Prevention and Response Capabilities
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Title VII of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (Section 7001) established the fifteen-member Interagency Coordinating Committee on Oil Pollution Research, the Interagency Committee, to "coordinate a comprehensive program of oil pollution research, technology development, and demonstration among the federal agencies, in cooperation and coordination with industry, universities, research institutions, state governments, and other nations, as appropriate, and shall foster cost-effective research mechanisms, including the joint funding of the research." The Chairman of the Interagency Committee, represented by the Coast Guard, is required to submit a biennial report to Congress on activities carried out under Section 7001 in the preceding two fiscal years, and on activities proposed to be carried out under this section in the current two fiscal year period.

Navigating ICCOPR    
  • About ICCOPR  Learn about the responsibilities of the ICCOPR and meet the Chair and Interagency members.
  • Documents  Archived documents and reports, to include: Biennial Reports and 1997 Oil Pollution Research and Technology Plan
  • Meetings and Notices  This section provides a listing of past and future Interagency Committee meetings or formal engagements.
  • Conferences & Workshops   A list of oil pollution research conferences and workshops supported by or of interest to the ICCOPR.
  • Other Links   Links and information on subjects affecting R&D, including congressional activities, government facilities, and issues related to the Arctic and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.
  • R&D programs & Stakeholders   Linkages to various government, industry, and academic oil pollution research programs.
DISCLAIMER: Reference to an external Internet resource on this server does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement by the ICCOPR of the services or views described in that resource.
25 Years After the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
March 2014: OR&R's new report, Twenty-Five Years After the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, describes the accident, the multi-agency response, and the catastrophic toll that this spill had on the Alaskan environment.
Authored by NOAA marine biologist Gary Shigenaka, the report revisits the details of the spill, tells the story of NOAA's role in spill response from its beginnings in the mid-1970s, and then explains how the two came together during the Exxon Valdez oil spill in a technical effort that would span a quarter century and outlive the ship itself.

25 Years After the Exxon Valdez, Sea Otter Population at Pre-Spill Levels
February 28, 2014. Nearly 25 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill injured wildlife off the coast of Alaska, a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey indicates that sea otters have returned to pre-spill numbers within the most heavily oiled areas of Prince William Sound. Through long-term data collection and analysis, scientists found that sea otters were slow to recover, likely because of chronic exposure to lingering oil. Other studies documented persistence of oil in the sea otter's intertidal feeding habitats.

“Although recovery timelines varied widely among species, our work shows that recovery of species vulnerable to long-term effects of oil spills can take decades,” said lead author of the study, Brenda Ballachey, research biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “For sea otters, we began to see signs of recovery in the years leading up to 2009, two decades after the spill, and the most recent results from 2011 to 2013 are consistent with recovery as defined by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council.”

'Greener' Aerogel Technology Holds Potential for Oil and Chemical Clean-up
February 25, 2014: A group of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, led by Shaoquin “Sarah” Gong, recently created and patented the new aerogel technology that may offer a cheaper and "greener" method to absorb oil and heavy metals from water and other surfaces. Aerogels are highly porous and the lightest solids in existence. The aerogel prepared in Gong's lab is made of cellulose nanofibrils (sustainable wood-based materials) and an environmentally friendly polymer using a freeze-drying process without organic solvents. The process used by the research team provides gives the aerogel its water-repelling and oil-absorbing properties. “For this material, one unique property is that it has superior absorbing ability for organic solvents - up to nearly 100 times its own weight,” she says. “The idea is you could throw this aerogel sheet in the water and it would start to absorb the oil very quickly and efficiently. Once it's fully saturated, you can take it out and squeeze out all the oil.” The results of their study are presented in the Journal of Materials Chemistry, Issue 9, 2014.

Mechanism for Crude Oil Interference With Fish Heart Cells Discovered
February 14, 2014: Scientists from Stanford University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have discovered that crude oil interferes with fish heart cells. The toxic consequence is a slowed heart rate, reduced cardiac contractility and irregular heartbeats that can lead to cardiac arrest and sudden cardiac death. The researchers report that oil interferes with cardiac cell excitability, contraction and relaxation - vital processes for normal beat-to-beat contraction and pacing of the heart. Their tests revealed that very low concentrations of crude oil disrupt the specialized ion channel pores - where molecules flow in and out of the heart cells – that control heart rate and contraction in the cardiac muscle cell. The research, published in the February 14 issue of Science, is part of the ongoing Natural Resource Damage Assessment of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Actions Recommended to Study the Effects of Oil Spills on European Union Fisheries
February 10, 2014: More needs to be done to investigate the short and long-term impact of the Oil and Gas (O&G) industry on EU fisheries, according to a recent report conducted by academics at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. The report, presented to the Fisheries Committee in the European Parliament, also says lessons learned in the North Sea are applicable to the newer areas of oil and gas exploration. The “Impact of Oil & Gas Drilling Accidents on EU Fisheries” report by Dr. David Green and Dr. Cristina Gomez of the University of Aberdeen's Institute for Coastal Science and Management (AICSM) provides for the first time a review of oil and gas related incidents and accidents in relation to fisheries in EU waters.

New Tool Available to Help Track Spilled Oil
February 6, 2014: A paper released in the Marine Pollution Bulletin describes a newly developed computer model that holds the promise of helping scientists track and predict where oil will go after a spill, sometimes years later. U.S. Geological Survey scientists developed the model as a way of tracking the movement of sand and oil found along the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The new tool can help guide clean-up efforts, and be used to aid the response to future oil spills. The USGS study looked at conglomerates several centimeters thick - known as “surface residual balls,” or “SRBs”, which continue to emerge in some beach locations more than three years after the first oil reached the shoreline. “The techniques developed here can be applied to evaluate the potential alongshore movement of SRBs in other locations or from any future spill where large quantities of oil and sand mix in the surf zone”, said P. Soupy Dalyander, a research oceanographer and lead author of the study.

Keystone XL Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement Released
January 31, 2014: The State Department released the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Final Supplemental EIS) for the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline project. The Final Supplemental EIS is a technical assessment of the potential environmental impacts related to the proposed pipeline. It responds to over 1.9 million comments received since June 2012. A 30-day public comment period will begin with the publication of a Federal Register notice on February 5, 2014 and will close on March 7, 2014. During this period, the public and interested parties are encouraged to submit comments on the national interest to

Downward Trend in Spills is Maintained Despite Blip
January 14, 2014: The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) released statistics showing a slight increase in the number of large spills from tankers in 2013 compared to the previous two years but reported that the downward trend was maintained. ITOPF reports that “Although the volume of oil spilt is also up on the last two years, the total quantity spilt so far this decade is only a sixth of that spilt for the same period in the previous decade.”

Solicitation Released: Proposed Research on Oil Spill Response Operations in the U.S. OCS Block
December 18, 2013: The U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is soliciting White Papers of not more than five (5) pages in length, for specific areas of interest to the BSEE Oil Spill Response Research (OSRR) Program on Oil Spill Response Operations in the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). When appropriate, the research shall be conducted consistently with prior research. Interested parties are encouraged to view the information presented on the site when considering submitting white papers. See FedBizOps for the solicitation.

NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program Releases “Science Plan Framework”
December 12, 2013: NOAA has completed its Science Plan Framework for the NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program. This Framework communicates NOAA's intent, purpose, and rationale for how it will execute the Program according to its responsibilities under the RESTORE Act. This Science Plan Framework will inform the Program's short-term priorities and provide the foundation for the development of a robust Science Plan, which will guide program implementation and map the long-term scientific direction of the program.

Study Describes How an Oil Slick Could Influence Its Own Movement
October 7, 2013: The Gulf of Mexico Research Institute reports that scientists at Florida State University are examining the mechanics behind oil transport, including changes to Sea Surface Temperature (SST) and the roughness of surface water that an oil slick could affect.

They found that a slick, by increasing SST gradients and decreasing surface roughness, had the potential to change “boundary layer processes.” These changes could influence wind speed, divergence, spin, and transport direction and “hence oil motion itself.” Researchers published their findings in the March 2013 issue of the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology: Influences of sea surface temperature gradients and surface roughness changes on the motion of surface oil: A simple idealized study.

Vision for a Healthy Gulf of Mexico Watershed
September 24, 2013. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released its Vision for a Healthy Gulf of Mexico Watershed, intended to catalyze conversation across borders with many state, federal, non-governmental and private partners to help focus collective restoration efforts. “Restoring the Gulf of Mexico is not just a Gulf challenge,” said Director Dan Ashe. “It is a challenge for our nation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service envisions a national solution.” The Vision identifies eight science-based conservation strategies and 16 conservation focal areas. The Service's goal is to find common priorities to more easily facilitate collaboration with our partners. The Service has already begun sharing the Vision with its partners and stakeholders in the Gulf of Mexico watershed. A follow-up document, due out later this year, will offer more details and specific project recommendations with partner input.

NOAA RESTORE Act Program Announced in the Federal Register
August 15, 2013. NOAA announced the implementation of the NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program with a Federal Register notice on Thursday, August 15, 2013 (FR Vol. 78, No. 159). The program was developed under the authority of the Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act) of 2012. The notice describes a new competitive science program to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and the communities that depend on it. Under Section 1604 of the RESTORE Act, NOAA was designated with responsibilities to establish the Program, which is to be funded by 2.5% of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Trust Fund plus twenty-five percent of the Trust Fund accrued interest. The Program will be housed within the National Ocean Service's National Center for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS).

Coast Guard Research and Development Center to Test Oil Spill Technologies in Arctic

August 13, 2013: The U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center (RDC) plans to test and evaluate oil spill detection and recovery technologies in the Arctic Ocean as part of Operation Arctic Shield 2013. A multi-agency team of engineers and scientists led by RDC researchers will conduct a series of demonstrations in September aboard Coast Guard Cutter Healy to test and evaluate capabilities of various unmanned aerial systems (UAS), an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to search for simulated oil spills.

“This analysis builds on several years of oil in ice work, unmanned systems evaluations and underwater research conducted by the RDC, including a series of winter tests previously conducted in the Great Lakes,” stated Rich Hansen, the Arctic coordinator at the RDC and chief scientist for this mission. “It is quite an accomplishment to bring together this multi-agency team with such a wide array of experience and expertise.” The team includes researchers and personnel from the Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, U.S. Air Force Special Command, Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Center of Excellence, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Structured cone arrays for continuous and effective collection of micron-sized oil droplets from water
August 6, 2013 - According to a paper published in Nature Communications, a team of scientists in China used the unique water capturing properties of cactus needles to design an array of copper and silicone polymer conical needles capable of removing up to 99% of oil mixed in water. Cactus needles disrupt the spherical shape of water droplets and the water moves to the base of the needle as surface tension reforms the droplet. The scientists created an array of cones that captured micron-sized oil droplets and moved them to the base of the cone in a similar manner.

Coast Guard Research and Development Center Releases Arctic Shield Video

The Coast Guard Research and Development Center (RDC) has released a video documenting the 2012 Arctic Shield Spilled Oil Response System (SORS) Exercise, which was conducted July 31 to August 2, 2012. The Coast Guard and US Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV) deployed the SORS and SUPSALV response systems off Barrow Alaska to evaluate the logistics of getting spill response personnel and equipment to remote Arctic locations and deploying the systems.

Coast Guard releases Great Lakes Oil-In-Ice Demonstration 3 Final Report
August 2013: The Coast Guard Research and Development Center released the final report describing the third season of a continuing effort by the Coast Guard, in collaboration with other Federal, state, and local agencies, private industry, and international interested parties, to gain practical knowledge and field experience in the coordination and operation of equipment, and the exploration of techniques applicable to the recovery of oil spills in ice-infested waters. The effort explored and demonstrated two commercial oil skimmers, a boom, fire cannon herding equipment, ice detecting radar, remotely operated vehicle (ROV), and autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) in rubble and sheet ice conditions during February 2013 in the Straits of Mackinac on the Great Lakes in northern Michigan. The exercise produced many valuable 'lessons learned' that are applicable to ice-infested waters within the continental United States and in the Arctic waters of Alaska.

Site last updated April 18, 2014

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