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Comparative risk assessment of oil spill response options for a deepwater oil well blowout: Part II. Relative risk methodology

Bock, Michael, Robinson, Hilary, Wenning, Richard, French-McCay, Deborah, Rowe, Jill, Walker, Ann Hayward
Marine pollution bulletin 2018 v.133 pp. 984-1000
accidents, aquatic organisms, burning, comparative risk assessment, dispersants, ecosystems, environmental assessment, oil fields, oil spills, population density, relative risk, shorelines, stakeholders, water pollution, wildlife, Gulf of Mexico
Subsea dispersant injection (SSDI) was a new oil spill response (OSR) technology deployed during the Deepwater Horizon accident. To integrate SSDI into future OSR decisions, a hypothetical deepwater oil spill to the Gulf of Mexico was simulated and a comparative risk assessment (CRA) tool applied to contrast three response strategies: (1) no intervention; (2) mechanical recovery, in-situ burning, and surface dispersants; and, (3) SSDI in addition to responses in (2). A comparative ecological risk assessment (CRA) was applied to multiple valued ecosystem components (VECs) inhabiting different environmental compartments (ECs) using EC-specific exposure and relative VEC population density and recovery time indices. Results demonstrated the added benefit of SSDI since relative risks to shoreline, surface wildlife and most aquatic life VECs were reduced. Sensitivity of results to different assumptions was also tested to illustrate flexibility of the CRA tool in addressing different stakeholder priorities for mitigating the impacts of a deepwater blowout.