Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Increasing Risk of Oil Spills in North Pacific Basin

New reports in Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology outline how the increase in marine vessel traffic, and oil and gas exploration and development in the North Pacific basin pose increased risks of oil spills.

The leading journal of studies on environmental pollution, released a special issue on July 10 devoted to monitoring and evaluating effects and repercussions of oil spills It can be found at

Original research featured in this issue includes major discoveries from scientific studies of oil spill effects on marine ecosystems and environments, beginning with the 1989 Exxon Valdez, and increasing recognition on the limited ability of scientists to evaluate the damage caused by those events.

The articles offer a framework for assessing oil spill risks to marine mammals that considers length of exposure, potential for oil adhesion, inhalation, direct and indirect ingestion, in addition to the likelihood of population-level effects of an oil spill determined by population size, distribution, diversity of diet and susceptibility of prey to decline.

The Trump administration has opened a public comment period on a new five-year (2017-2022) offshore drilling program for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf, which would allow for the expansion of drilling efforts into environmentally significant areas.

The 45-day comment period began with the publication of the notice in the Federal Register on July 3, and ends on August 17.

Opinions can be submitted electronically at by clicking on the “open comment document” link and following the instructions to view the relevant documents prior to submission All comments must be received on or before August 17.

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