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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Research


Innovative Ways of Treating Spills of Vegetable Oils and Animal Fats in Inland Aquatic Environments

Opening Date: March 23, 1999
Closing Date: May 7, 1999

1.  EPA Mission and R&D Strategy
2.  Innovative Ways of Treating Spills of Vegetable Oil and Animal Fats in Inland Aquatic Environments
3.  Funding
4.  Eligibility
5.  Standard Instructions For Submitting An Application
6.  How to Apply
7.  Guidelines, Limitations, and Additional Requirements
8.  Review and Selection
9.  Proprietary Information
10. Funding Mechanism
11. Substantial Government Involvement
12. Contacts

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In this announcement the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Research and Development (ORD), invites research cooperative agreement applications in the following area of special interest to its mission:

Innovative Ways of Treating Spills of Vegetable Oils and Animal Fats in Inland Aquatic Environments

This invitation provides relevant background information, summarizes EPA's interest in the topic areas, and describes the application and review process.


1. EPA Mission and R&D Strategy

The mission of EPA is to protect both environmental quality and human health through effective regulations and other policy initiatives. Achievement of this mission requires the application of sound science to assessment of environmental problems and to evaluation of possible solutions. A significant challenge is to support both long-term research that anticipates future environmental problems as well as research that fills gaps in knowledge relevant to meeting current Agency goals.

EPA's research programs focus on reduction of risks to human health and ecosystems and on the reduction of uncertainty associated with risk assessment. Through its laboratories and through grants to academic and other not-for-profit institutions, EPA promotes research in both domains, according the highest priority to those areas in which risk assessors are most in need of new concepts, methods, and data. EPA also fosters the development and evaluation of new risk reduction technologies across a spectrum, from pollution prevention through end-of-pipe controls to remediation and monitoring. In all areas, EPA is interested in research that recognizes issues relating to environmental justice, the concept of achieving equal protection from environmental and health hazards for all people without regard to race, economic status, or culture.

2. Innovative Ways of Treating Spills of Vegetable Oil and Animal Fats in Inland Aquatic Environments

Under the Clean Water Act (CWA), as amended by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, vegetable oils and animal fats are considered oils. As mandated by the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990, EPA has developed regulations for response planning. The Facility Response Plan (FRP) rule requires certain facilities whose discharge could cause significant environmental harm to prepare and implement response plans. While the rule applies to facilities storing petroleum oils and non-petroleum oils, including vegetable oils and animal fats, it provides greater flexibility to vegetable oil or animal fat facilities in the development of these plans than what is required for petroleum facilities.

In the FRP rule, EPA has established different and more flexible response planning requirements for facilities that handle, store, or transport non-petroleum oil, including animal fats and vegetable oils. For example, in calculating required response resources for non-petroleum facilities, the owner/operator of a facility which handles, stores, or transports animal fats or vegetable oils is not required to use emulsification or evaporation factors in Appendix E of the rule. Rather, these facilities need only (1) show procedures and strategies for responding to the maximum extent practicable to a worst case discharge; (2) show sources of equipment and supplies necessary to locate, recover, and mitigate discharges; (3) demonstrate that the equipment identified will work in the conditions expected in the relevant geographic area, and respond within the required times; and (4) ensure the availability of required resources by contract or other approved means. (40 CFR Part 112, Appendix E, section 7.7.) It is important to note that EPA does not determine the type or amount of equipment that preparers of response plans for non-petroleum oil discharges must identify.

EPA has considered the physical, chemical, biological, and other properties and environmental effects of petroleum oils, vegetable oils, and animal fats, which are the criteria now to be evaluated under the Edible Oils Regulatory Reform Act of 1995. EPA has found that petroleum oils, vegetable oils, and animal fats share common physical properties and produce similar environmental effects. Like petroleum oils, vegetable oils and animal fats and their constituents can do the following:

  • Cause devastating physical effects, such as coating animals and plants with oil and suffocating them by oxygen depletion;
  • Be toxic and form toxic products;
  • Destroy future and existing food supplies, breeding animals, and habitat;
  • Produce rancid odors;
  • Foul shorelines, clog water treatment plants, and catch fire when ignition sources are present; and
  • Form products that linger in the environment for many years.

    Scientific research and experience with actual spills have shown that spills of animal fats and vegetable oils kill or injure fish, birds, mammals, and other species and produce other undesirable effects. Waterfowl and other birds, mammals, and fish that are coated with animal fats or vegetable oils could die of hypothermia, dehydration and diarrhea, or starvation. They can also sink and drown or fall victim to predators. Fish and other aquatic organisms may suffocate because of the depletion of oxygen caused by spilled animal fats and vegetable oils in water. Whether these oils are "toxic" to wildlife or kill wildlife through other processes is not the issue. Spills of animal fats and vegetable oils have the same or similar devastating impacts on the aquatic environment as petroleum oils.
  • In a project currently being conducted by EPA's Office of Research and Development, preliminary evidence suggests strongly that toxicity (as measured by the MicrotoxTM assay) of both canola oil and soybean oil increases many-fold during aerobic biodegradation in laboratory flasks. The mechanism of this increased toxic response is unknown, but the observation is real. Based on this, if a large vegetable oil spill were to take place on a lake or river, the effect could be more devastating than originally thought. This RFA solicits proposals that focus on the development of innovative, biologically based methods for the treatment of vegetable oil spills on inland waterways. Emphasis should be on the development of new methods that reduce the uncertainties associated with cleanup and the toxic response of the aquatic community. Studies that propose refinement, validation, or invalidation of existing methods are also acceptable if they will result in a significant reduction in uncertainty. Methods development based on biological processes alone or in combination with physical-chemical systems would be of interest. A clear and unambiguous demonstration of the removal mechanism should be a part of the proposed study.

    3. Funding: It is anticipated that approximately $100,000, including direct and indirect costs, will be awarded in FY 1999-2000, depending on the availability of funds. Proposals may request funding for projects with a total cost up to $100,000/year with a duration of up to 3 years.

    4. Eligibility

    The OPA allows EPA to enter into assistance agreements with universities, research institutions, and other persons. Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact Dr. Albert D. Venosa, National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL), Cincinnati, OH, at phone: (513)-569-7668 or email: venosa.albert@epamail.epa.gov.

    5. Standard Instructions For Submitting An Application

    This section contains a set of special instructions on how applicants should apply for an EPA competitive cooperative agreement. Proposed projects must be for research designed to advance the state of knowledge in the research area described in this solicitation.

    The Application

    The initial application is made through the submission of the materials described below. It is essential that the application contain all the information requested and be submitted in the formats described. If an application is considered for award, (i.e., after external peer review and internal review) additional forms and other information will be requested by the Project Officer. The application should not be bound or stapled in any way. The Application contains the following:

    A. Standard Form 424: The applicant must complete Standard Form 424 (see attached form and instructions). This form will act as a cover sheet for the application and should be its first page. Instructions for completion of the SF424 are included with the form. The form must contain the original signature of an authorized representative of the applying institution. Please note that both the Principal Investigator and an administrative contact should be identified in Section 5 of the SF424.

    B. Key Contacts: The applicant must complete the Key Contacts Form (attached) as the second page of the submitted application.

    C. Abstract: The abstract should include the following information, as indicated in the example format provided:

    1. Title: Use the exact title as it appears in the rest of the application.

    2. Investigators: Start with the Principal Investigator. Also list the names and affiliations of each co-investigator who will significantly contribute to the project.

    3. Institution: List the name and city/state of each participating university or other applicant institution, in the same order as the list of investigators.

    4. Project Period: Provide the proposed project dates.

    5. Project Cost: Provide the total request to EPA for the entire project period.

    6. Project Summary: This should summarize: (a) the objectives of the study (including any hypotheses that will be tested), (b) the experimental approach to be used (which should give an accurate description of the project as described in the proposal), (c) the expected results of the project and how it addresses the research needs identified in the solicitation, including the estimated improvement in risk assessment or risk management that will result from successful completion of the work proposed.

    7. Supplemental Keywords: A list of suggested keywords is provided for your use. Do not duplicate terms already used in the text of the abstract.

    D. Project Description: This description must not exceed twenty (20) consecutively numbered (center bottom), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type (Times New Roman font preferred) with 1-inch margins. The description must provide the following information:

    1. Objectives: List the objectives of the proposed research and the hypotheses being tested during the project and briefly state why the intended research is important. This section can also include any background or introductory information that would help explain the objectives of the study.

    2. Approach: Outline the methods, approaches, and techniques that you intend to use in meeting the objective stated above (five to 10 pages recommended).

    3. Expected Results or Benefits: Describe the results you expect to achieve during the project, the benefits of success as they relate to the topic under which the proposal was submitted, and the potential recipients of these benefits. This section should also discuss the utility of the research project proposed for addressing the environmental problems described in the solicitation (one to two pages recommended).

    4. General Project Information: Discuss other information relevant to the potential success of the project. This should include facilities, personnel, project schedules, proposed management, interactions with other institutions, etc. (one to two pages recommended).

    5. Important Attachments: Appendices and/or other information may be included but must remain within the 20-page limit. References cited are in addition to the 20-page limit.

    E. Resumes: The resumes of all principal investigators and important co-workers should be presented. Resumes must not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type (preferably Times New Roman font) with 1-inch margins for each individual. These resumes are in addition to the 20-page limit.

    F. Current and Pending Support: The applicant must identify any current and pending financial resources that are intended to support research related to that included in the proposal or which would consume the time of principal investigators. This should be done by completing the appropriate form (see attachment) for each investigator and other senior personnel involved in the proposal. Failure to provide this information may delay consideration of your proposal.

    G. Budget: The applicant must present a detailed, itemized budget for the entire project. This budget must be in the format provided in the example (see attachment) and not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages with 1-inch margins. A brief statement concerning cost sharing must be added to the budget justification. For proposed cost sharing, the estimated dollar amounts should be included in the appropriate categories in the budget table. This section is in addition to the 20-page limit specified for the project description.

    H. Budget Justification: This section should describe the basis for calculating the personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, and other costs identified in the itemized budget and explain the basis for their calculation (special attention should be given to explaining the travel, equipment, and other categories). This should also include an explanation of how the indirect costs were calculated. This justification should not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins. This is in addition to the 20-page limit.

    I. Quality Assurance Narrative Statement: For any project involving data collection or processing, conducting surveys, environmental measurements, and/or modeling, or the development of environmental technology (whether hardware-based or via new techniques) for pollution control and waste treatment, provide a statement on how quality processes or products will be assured. This statement should not exceed two consecutively numbered, 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins. This is in addition to the 20 pages permitted for the Project Description. The Quality Assurance Narrative Statement should, for each item listed below, either present the required information or provide a justification as to why the item does not apply to the proposed research. For awards that involve environmentally related measurements or data generation, a quality system that complies with the requirements of ANSI/ASQC E4, "Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology Programs," must be in place.

    1. The activities to be performed or hypothesis to be tested (reference may be made to the specific page and paragraph number in the application where this information may be found); criteria for determining the acceptability of data quality in terms of precision, accuracy, representativeness, completeness, comparability. (Note: these criteria must also be applied to determine the acceptability of existing or secondary data to be used in the project.)

    2. The study design, including sample type and location requirements and any statistical analyses that were used to estimate the types and numbers of samples required for physical samples or similar information for studies using survey and interview techniques.

    3. The procedures for the handling and custody of samples, including sample identification, preservation, transportation, and storage.

    4. The methods that will be used to analyze samples or data collected, including a description of the sampling and/or analytical instruments required.

    5. The procedures that will be used in the calibration and performance evaluation of the sampling and analytical methods used during the project.

    6. The procedures for data reduction and reporting, including a description of statistical analyses to be used and of any computer models to be designed or utilized with associated verification and validation techniques.

    7. The intended use of the data as they relate to the study objectives or hypotheses.

    8. The quantitative and or qualitative procedures that will be used to evaluate the success of the project.

    9. Any plans for peer or other reviews of the study design or analytical methods prior to data collection.

    ANSI/ASQC E4, "Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology Programs" is available for purchase from the American Society for Quality Control, phone 1-800-248-1946, item T55. Only in exceptional circumstances should it be necessary to consult this document. There are EPA requirements (R-series) and guidance (G-series) documents available for potential applicants which address in detail how to comply with ANSI/ASQC E4. These may be found on the Internet at http://www.epa.gov/quality1/qa_docs.html. R-5, "EPA Requirements for Quality Assurance Project Plans," and G-4, "Guidance for the Data Quality Objectives Process," are particularly pertinent to this RFA's QA requirements.

    6. How to Apply

    The original and three (3) copies of the fully developed application must be received by EPA- NRMRL no later than 4:00 P.M. EDT, May 7, 1999.

    The application and abstract must be prepared in accordance with these instructions. Informal, incomplete, or unsigned proposals will not be considered. The application should not be bound or stapled in any way. The original and copies of the application should be secured with paper or binder clips. Completed applications should be sent via regular mail to:

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    c/o Dr. Albert D. Venosa
    National Risk Management Research Laboratory
    26 W. Martin Luther King Drive
    Cincinnati, OH 45268

    For express mail or courier-delivered applications, the same address should be used. The telephone number required for delivery is 513-569-7668.

    7. Guidelines, Limitations, and Additional Requirements

    Projects that contain subagreements or subcontracts constituting more than 40% of the total direct cost of the grant for each year in which the subcontract is awarded will be subject to special review and may require additional justification.

    8. Review and Selection

    All grant applications are initially reviewed by EPA to determine their legal and administrative acceptability. Acceptable applications are then reviewed by an appropriate technical peer review group. This review is designed to evaluate each proposal according to its scientific merit. In general, each review group is composed of non-EPA scientists, engineers, social scientists, and/or economists who are experts in their respective disciplines and are proficient in the technical areas they are reviewing. The reviewers use the following criteria to help them in their reviews:

    1. The originality and creativity of the proposed research, the appropriateness and adequacy of the research methods proposed, and the appropriateness and adequacy of the Quality Assurance Narrative Statement. Is the research approach practical and technically defensible, and can the project be performed within the proposed time period? Will the research contribute to scientific knowledge in the topic area of the solicitation? Is the proposal well-prepared with supportive information that is self-explanatory and understandable?

    2. The qualifications of the principal investigator(s) and other key personnel, including research training, demonstrated knowledge of pertinent literature, experience, and publication records. Will all key personnel contribute a significant time commitment to the project?

    3. The availability and/or adequacy of the facilities and equipment proposed for the project. Are there any deficiencies that may interfere with the successful completion of the research?

    4. The responsiveness of the proposal to the research needs identified for the topic area. Does the proposal adequately address all of the objectives specified for this topic area?

    5. Although budget information is not used by the reviewers as the basis for their evaluation of scientific merit, the reviewers are asked to provide their view on the appropriateness and/or adequacy of the proposed budget and its implications for the potential success of the proposed research. Input on requested equipment is of particular interest.

    Funding decisions are the sole responsibility of EPA. Grants are selected on the basis of technical merit, relevancy to the research priorities outlined, program balance, and budget. A summary statement of the scientific review by the peer panel will be provided to each applicant. Customarily, applicants are notified about award decisions within 6 months of the application deadline.

    The application selected for funding will require additional certifications, possibly a revised budget, and responses to any comments or suggestions offered by the peer reviewers. The Project Officer will contact the Principal Investigator to obtain these materials.

    9. Proprietary Information

    By submitting an application in response to this solicitation, the applicant grants EPA permission to share the application with technical reviewers both within and outside of the Agency. Applications containing proprietary or other types of confidential information will be returned to the applicant without review.

    10. Funding Mechanism

    The funding mechanism for the award issued under this solicitation will consist of a cooperative agreement from EPA and depends on the availability of funds. In accordance with Public Law 95-224, the primary purpose of a grant is to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by Federal statute rather than acquisition for the direct benefit of the Agency. In issuing a cooperative agreement, EPA anticipates that there will be substantial EPA involvement in the design, implementation, or conduct of the research funded.

    11. Substantial Government Involvement

    In carrying out this cooperative agreement, EPA will be substantially involved in the study. Details about the nature of the collaboration between EPA scientists and the cooperator will be negotiated following award of the cooperative agreement. Cultures of petroleum-degrading microorganisms developed in previous EPA studies will be available from EPA if desired by the cooperator.

    12. Contacts

    Additional general information on the grants program, forms used for applications, etc., may be obtained by exploring our Internet page at www.epa.gov/ncerqa. EPA does not intend to make mass-mailings of this announcement. Information not available on the Internet may be obtained by contacting:

    Dr. Albert D. Venosa
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    National Risk Management Research Laboratory
    26 W. Martin Luther King Drive
    Cincinnati, OH 45268

    Phone: 513-569-7668
    Email: venosa.albert@epamail.epa.gov

    End of File

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