Coast Guard announces revision of chemical dispersant use for oil spill responses in Alaska

Alaska Regional Response TeamJUNEAU, Alaska — The Coast Guard, a co-chair of the Alaska Regional Response Team (ARRT), in coordination with four other signatory agencies announced the new policy for the Dispersant Use Plan For Alaska, Wednesday in Anchorage.

The new policy is more inclusive, comprehensive, and conservative and includes a preauthorization area with a more protective protocol for use of chemical dispersant during responses to spills of crude oil in certain waters offshore of Alaska.  The policy allows for case-by-case decision-making criteria for dispersant use in waters outside the preauthorization area and enhances stakeholder and tribal government involvement in dispersant use decision-making, provisions for a framework to develop dispersant use avoidance areas, compliance with federal species and habitat protection measures, and changes in dispersant efficacy monitoring protocols.  Almost all coastal states and territories have dispersant use plans, but such a plan has not existed in Alaska since September 2008.

Federal regulations covering certain vessel response plans require development of defined dispersant response capabilities when such facilities or vessels are operating in waters where dispersant use preauthorization agreements exist.  Plan holders for affected vessel response plans have 24 months from the date of publication of this notice to achieve compliance by having sufficient dispersant capability on hand should this spill response tactic be considered.

“This new policy will enable the Coast Guard to ensure there is a regulated dispersant capability in the state of Alaska,” said Mark Everett, Coast Guard 17th District ARRT co-chair.  “This allows us to focus on potential spills to U.S. waters from crude oil laden tank vessels bound to or from a U.S. port.”

The previous dispersant use policy dated back to the late 1980s.  The new policy and further information can be found at the Alaska Regional Response Team website at

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