Since the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90), dispersants have been used as part of a combined response to mitigate seven oil spills in United States Gulf of Mexico (GOM) waters. Of the dispersant operations reported, four utilized the Regional Response Team VI pre-approval authority to the Federal On-Scene Coordinator (FOSC) that requires a monitoring plan. The successful integration of dispersant pre-authorization along with a fully funded ready response delivery system maintained by industry contributed to the successful use of dispersants to aid in mitigating spilled oil. A key element to gaining the original pre-approval authority was a functional operational monitoring plan. While each response was considered a successful dispersant operation, each incident provided valuable lessons learned that have been integrated into subsequent contingency planning and modifications to existing pre-authorization requirements in the GOM. This paper provides a chronological review of oil spill responses where dispersants were applied in the GOM since OPA 90.

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