Revisions to the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan – Subpart J Monitoring Requirements
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On July 27, 2021, EPA finalized monitoring requirements under Subpart J of the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP) for dispersant use in response to major oil discharges and certain other atypical dispersant use situations in the navigable waters of the United States and adjoining shorelines. These provisions will benefit the response community by equipping them with the data and information to authorize and use dispersants in a judicious and effective manner.
On June 12, 2023, EPA finalized the remaining provisions in the 2015 proposed amendments on product testing, listing and authorization of use requirements under Subpart J of the National Contingency Plan for chemical and biological agent products on oil discharges into waters of the United States and adjoining shorelines. Federal Register: 88 FR 38280
In 1994, EPA revised the NCP in response to the passage of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. The final rule amended Subpart J, establishing the current regulatory requirements with respect to:
- authorization of use,
- data requirements,
- dispersant effectiveness and toxicity testing protocols,
- surface washing agent testing protocol,
- bioremediation agent testing protocols, and
- requirements for adding products to the NCP Product Schedule.
Federal Register: September 15, 1994: National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan; Final Rule. 59 FR 47384
In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon underwater oil well blowout discharged significant quantities of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The blowout discharged oil from one mile below the sea surface. Approximately one million gallons of dispersants were deployed on surface slicks over a three-month period on thousands of square miles of the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, approximately three quarters of a million gallons of dispersants were, for the first time, injected directly into the oil gushing from the well riser. The Deepwater Horizon incident raised questions about the challenges of making dispersant use decisions in response operations for certain atypical dispersant use situations.
On January 22, 2015, EPA published a proposed rule to amend Subpart J of the NCP. The proposal incorporates lessons learned from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon response and addresses recommendations from the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling Report to the President.
The Agency received public comment submissions from industry, academia, state and local governments, environmental groups, and individuals. EPA considered comments relative to the monitoring provisions prior to publishing the final monitoring requirements.
- Oil Spill Emergency Response – Dispersant Monitoring Fact Sheets
These fact sheets are intended as a tool for emergency responders that explains each dispersant monitoring requirement, describes how the data collected can inform decisions during an oil spill response, and offers insights for interpreting dispersant monitoring data.
- Environmental Monitoring for Atypical Dispersant Operations: Including Guidance for Subsea Application and Prolonged Surface Application
This guidance was approved by the NRT to assist On–Scene Coordinators and Regional Response Teams in making incident–specific and planning decisions regarding environmental monitoring for atypical dispersant operations.
- Overview of Final Rule Fact Sheet: Monitoring Provisions for Subpart J of the National Contingency Plan (pdf)