A Review of Genwest’s Final Report on
Effective Daily Recovery Capacity

A Letter Report

Committee to Review the EDRC Project Final Report

Ocean Studies Board
Division on Earth and Life Studies



Washington, D.C.


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A Review of Genwest’s Final Report on Effective Daily Recovery Capacity (EDRC) A Letter Report Committee to Review the EDRC Project Final Report Ocean Studies Board Division on Earth and Life Studies

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by Contract E13PC0007 between the National Academy of Sciences and the BSEE Oil Spill Division. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. Available online at http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2013 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.

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The National Academy of S ciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. C. D. M ote, Jr., is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of M edicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of M edicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. C. D. M ote, Jr., are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org .

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COMMITTEE TO REVIEW THE EDRC PROJECT FINAL REPORT MEMBERS STEVE E. RAMBERG (Chair), Pennsylvania State University, Washington, DC MICHEL BOUFADEL, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey VICTORIA BROJE, Shell Exploration and Production Company, Houston, Texas DEBORAH FRENCH MCCAY, RPS ASA, South Kingston, Rhode Island ANTONIO POSSOLO, National Institute of Standards & Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland STAFF KARA N. LANEY, Study Director BEVERLY HUEY, Study Director KATHLEEN REIMER, Senior Program Assistant SUSAN ROBERTS, Director, Ocean Studies Board v

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OCEAN STUDIES BOARD MEMBERS ROBERT A. DUCE, Chair, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas E. VIRGINIA ARMBRUST, University of Washington, Seattle EDWARD A. BOYLE, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge RITA R. COLWELL, University of Maryland, College Park SARAH W. COOKSEY, State of Delaware, Dover CORTIS K. COOPER, Chevron Corporation, San Ramon, California ROBERT HALLBERG, NOAA/GFDL and Princeton University, New Jersey DAVID HALPERN, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California BARBARA A. KNUTH, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York GEORGE I. MATSUMOTO, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing, California STEVEN A. MURAWSKI, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg CLAUDIA BENITEZ-NELSON, University of South Carolina, Columbia JOHN A. ORCUTT, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California H. TUBA ÖZKAN-HALLER, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon STEVEN E. RAMBERG, Penn State Applied Research Lab, Washington, DC ANDREW A. ROSENBERG, Union of Concerned Scientists, Cambridge, MA DANIEL L. RUDNICK, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California MARTIN D. SMITH, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina PETER L. TYACK, University of Saint Andrews, United Kingdom DON WALSH, International Maritime Incorporated, Myrtle Point, Oregon DAWN J. WRIGHT, Environmental Systems Research Institute, Redlands, California JAMES A. YODER, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts Ex-Officio MARY (MISSY) H. FEELEY, ExxonMobil Exploration Company, Houston, Texas STAFF SUSAN ROBERTS, Board Director CLAUDIA MENGELT, Senior Program Officer DEBORAH GLICKSON, Senior Program Officer PAMELA LEWIS, Administrative Coordinator PAYTON KULINA, Program Assistant SHUBHA BANSKOTA, Financial Associate CONSTANCE KARRAS, Research Associate vi

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Acknowledgements This report has been reviewed in draft form by persons chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council Report Review Committee. The purpose of the independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards of objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following for their review of the report: Kenneth Arnold, WorleyParsons William Chameides, Duke University Cortis Cooper, Chevron Energy Technology Company Ali Khelifa, Environment Canada William Lerch, ExxonMobil (retired) Edward Overton, Louisiana State University Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of the report was overseen by George M. Hornberger, Vanderbilt University. Appointed by the National Academy of Sciences, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of the report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of the report rests entirely with the author committee and the institution. vii

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OCEAN STUDIES BOARD 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 Phone: 202 334 2714 Fax: 202 334 2885 E-mail: osbfeedback@nas.edu November 14, 2013 Mr. David M. Moore Chief, Oil Spill Response Division Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement U.S. Department of the Interior 381 Elden Street Herndon, VA 20170 Dear Mr. Moore: In the spring of 2013, representatives of the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) approached the National Research Council’s Ocean Studies Board (OSB) to ask for an objective technical evaluation of the report produced by Genwest Systems, Inc., on the Effective Daily Recovery Capacity (EDRC) approach to estimating the efficiency of oil skimmers at recovering oil in contingency planning for a spill event. OSB assembled a committee of five members and charged it with evaluating the scientific basis of the methodology, applicability, and modeling approach used in the Genwest report. (See Appendix B for the committee’s statement of task.) The members of the committee are pleased to provide this letter report containing their findings. (See Appendix C for committee member biographies.) On July 15, 2013, the committee held a public meeting, at which BSEE representatives discussed the statement of task. The committee queried the authors of the Genwest report in a teleconference on July 25, 2013. The committee then held a series of closed-session teleconferences to deliberate. The format of this report, a brief document prepared over a short time, is well suited to the task at hand in view of the urgency perceived by the agency in revising regulations for planning for oil spill events. The aim of the committee was to advise BSEE on the soundness of the Genwest report’s results in order for BSEE to consider its next steps. The committee’s letter report assumes some familiarity with the contents of the Genwest report. The committee understood the Genwest report to be a final report. In response to its statement of task, the committee found the new approach for estimating the efficiency of oil skimmers presented by Genwest, the Estimated Recovery System Potential ix

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(ERSP), to be basically sound and a substantial improvement over methods currently employed by BSEE in its rule-making. However, there are a number of simple improvements that can and should be made to the ERSP approach that would be extremely useful. For example: • Use of “derated” nameplate recovery capacity could be replaced with the standard test results from ASTM International. • The computer model, with defaults and guidelines, could allow more input variables to be entered into the model, including estimates of oil thickness. • The approach could provide a stronger accounting for the effects of patchiness in oil spills as it relates to the effectiveness of skimmers. • The ranges of uncertainty associated with input variables could be carried into the outputs calculated by the computer model, and the equations could be made available to the community for review and comment. • A user manual that documents the limitations of use of the ERSP approach and provides guidance to the user for choosing input values in accordance with different planning scenarios would be helpful. This letter report provides more detail in the above areas as well as several others in the body of the report. It notes how the model works well and how it does not and identifies specific model deficiencies. The Genwest version of ERSP, or a version with the improvements offered above, is not intended to reflect circumstances that control recovery during an actual spill but is intended solely for planning purposes under various scenarios. The committee wishes to emphasize, as Genwest describes in its report, that mechanical skimmers are only one of several methods for responding to an oil spill event, and thus are only one element of an integrated approach for oil spill response planning. Sincerely, Steven E. Ramberg, Chair Committee to Review the Effective Daily Recovery Capacity (EDRC) Project Final Report x