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Science to Support EPA’s Response to the BP Oil Spill

EPA scientists and engineers are supporting the coordinated response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has provided full support to the U.S. Coast Guard, the leader of the coordinated federal response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. EPA’s efforts are being informed and supported by EPA scientists and engineers from across the Agency.  

EPA’s cadre of scientists are uniquely positioned to provide immediate and ongoing technical advice and expertise, as well as work to facilitate the gathering and analysis of  data from air, water, waste and sediment samples from the affected area. In coordination with the Joint Incident Command Exit EPA Disclaimer, Agency scientists are communicating results and information to emergency responders, citizens, and others in need of the latest scientific information.

In addition, EPA researchers are laying the groundwork to provide both the near- and long-term scientific support needed for clean-up and research activities that are likely to be needed over the coming months and perhaps years.

One of EPA’s first scientific actions was deploying equipment and personnel to assess environmental conditions for potential water and air contamination. EPA researchers deployed the emergency response vehicles TAGA, a self-contained mobile laboratory capable of real-time air emission sampling and analysis, and ASPECT, a twin engine “flying laboratory” aircraft designed to assist in the collection of air sampling data as well as photo documentation of environmental incidents.

An EPA worker takes a water sample

EPA researchers are developing sampling approaches and Quality Assurance plans to support reliable data collection to assess environmental exposure and effects of the oil spill over the next several months. The Agency will continue to identify and evaluate likely exposure pathways for the oil, dispersed oil, and dispersant to reach humans and ecological receptors (such as plankton, fish, wildlife, and coastal vegetation).  

Tragically, the environmental effects of the oil spill will almost certainly have far-reaching and long-term effects. Based on their ongoing work to support immediate and near-term remediation efforts, EPA researchers have begun designing sampling and analysis plans that can support long-term assessments of the incident, as well as the efficacy of the remediation and the recovery of the area.

Researchers and engineers from across EPA will continue to provide the needed scientific and technical support the Agency needs to respond to the tragic Deepwater Horizon Oil spill.

Environmental data, including air quality and water samples, is updated daily on EPA’s BP Oil Spill Response Web site as it is collected and validated by EPA’s response teams along the impacted coastlines. This data is meant to determine potential risks to public health and the environment.

Following the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico on April 22, 2010, EPA has provided full support to the U.S. Coast Guard and continues to closely coordinate with other federal, state and local agencies to monitor and respond to potential public health and environmental concerns.

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