The National Contingency Plan (NCP) Product Schedule, the Applied Response Tool Evaluation System (ARTES), and the Selection Guide for Oil Spill Applied Technologies (Selection Guide) are information and evaluation resources that, used together, provide spill response decision makers with a comprehensive framework to assess the potential uses and effects of applied response technologies either during an oil spill emergency or in advance. The applied response technologies addressed by these response tools include fastwater booming strategies, nonfloating oil strategies, water-intake monitoring, alternative sorbents, bioremediation agents, dispersants, elasticity modifiers, emulsion treating agents, firefighting foams, in situ burning on land and inland waters, solidifiers, surface-collecting agents, surface-washing agents, and shoreline pretreatment agents. The U.S. NCP regulates the use of any chemical/biological product as a spill response tool.
In most instances, decision makers are aware of these information resources, but many government and industry users are unclear on the relationship among the three, that is, what does each do, how are they similar and/or different, and how can each be used in relation to the others. To make a well-reasoned decision, decision makers need to understand the functions of each.
This paper provides an overview of the NCP Product Schedule, which is a regulatory requirement for considering the use of biological and chemical additives on oil spills in the United States, and how the Product Schedule can be used in conjunction with decision aids, like ARTES and the Selection Guide, to select the proper response products and strategies for oil spills. The paper reviews the functions, limitations, and flexibility of each component in this decision framework and discusses ways to use all three information resources to reason through when the use of applied response tools might be ecologically appropriate.