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
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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.
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
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COMMITTEE TO REVIEW THE EDRC PROJECT FINAL REPORT
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
KARA N. LANEY, Study Director
BEVERLY HUEY, Study Director
KATHLEEN REIMER, Senior Program Assistant
SUSAN ROBERTS, Director, Ocean Studies Board
OCEAN STUDIES BOARD
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
MARY (MISSY) H. FEELEY, ExxonMobil Exploration Company, Houston, Texas
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
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.
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
OCEAN STUDIES BOARD
500 Fifth Street, NW
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
(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.
Steven E. Ramberg, Chair
Committee to Review the Effective Daily Recovery Capacity (EDRC) Project Final Report