This paper examines explosion hazards while recovering spilled oil utilizing oil spill recovery barges. The risk of static accumulation and discharge is well understood after thorough investigations of several incidents in the 1970s and 1980s involving explosions on tank barges and vessels during petroleum cargo loading and unloading operations. However, those lessons learned only partially apply to oil spill recovery operations due to the differences in liquid properties, crew training, and additional tasks required during an oil spill response. While regulatory standards have been enacted for petroleum tankers and barges involved in commercial transportation of oil and other hazardous materials, the utility of these standards for oil spill response vessels has not been fully considered. Inverviews were conducted with marine transporters and response organizations to understand the wide range of operational risks and mitigation proceedures currently in use. This paper outlines the four basic conditions that must be present to create a static discharge-induced explosion during liquid cargo operations. A review of explosion casualty history was completed for cargo operations and compared to operations that create similar hazards during oil spill recovery operations. Specific processes that create additional risk of static-induced explosions during response operations were studied to review mitigation actions. Finally, recommendations for continued training are provided to help guide the spill response community when preparing for and responding to oil spills.

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