New online tool launched to aid arctic oil spill decision making

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Intended as a one stop shop to identify information relevant to arctic oil spill response, the tool is the first time the substantial volume of existing research on the environmental effects of oil and oil spill response techniques in the Arctic has been compiled and reviewed in one place. While the industry remains focused first and foremost on preventing any oil spill from ever occurring in the Arctic, it is also committed to be prepared for a spill, however unlikely. Net Environmental Benefit Analysis (or NEBA) is the process that the response community uses to determine which response option will minimise the impacts to environment and people.

Compiled by a consortium of international expert investigators in the field of arctic biology, the physical environment, oil fate and biodegradation, oil spill response, toxicology, population modelling and recovery, and NEBA, the online tool comprises a fully searchable report and literature database based on over 960 literature references from investigations into spilled oil and oil spill response technologies in the Arctic marine environment.

The Arctic Response Technology Joint Industry Programme (JIP) has marked a first with the launch of a new online, publically available ‘NEBA’ tool to aid arctic oil spill decision-making.

Key findings from the report include evidence that certified dispersants and oils treated with these dispersants are not more toxic than oil, that arctic species are not more sensitive to dispersed oil than non-arctic species, and that the presence of ice may mitigate environmental impact by forming a barrier so that other vulnerable resources like coastlines cannot be reached. Recommendations for follow-up work into population resilience are now being actioned by the JIP, with long-term exposure experiments using in situ mesocosms now being carried out in Svalbard, Norway.