EPA finalizes stronger standards for oil spill response

Stronger response efforts to oil spills and hazardous substance releases into federal waters and adjoining shorelines are called for under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules finalized on Wednesday.

The EPA said these new standards encourage development of safer and more effective oil spill mitigating products like chemical and biological agents, provide emergency responders more information to better target the use of these agents, and require more transparency when these products are used.

Clifford Villa, deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, said the new rule would “increase transparency and reporting requirements, and support the emergency responders working to protect our communities.”

Highlights of the rule include strengthening requirements for listing products on the National Contingency Plan product schedule and requiring product manufacturers to provide more detailed product information, including health and safety information, to aid responders in evaluating whether to use specific products when responding to oil spills.

The new rule also calls for increasing access to information on product components, establishes limitations and prohibitions on use of certain agents, establishes a publicly available Sorbent Product List separate from the National Contingency Plan product schedule, clarifies responsibilities and procedures for authorizing use of these products, and would require notifying the public of when these chemical and biological agents are used in emergency response.

Find information on the final rule online at https://www.epa.gov/emergency-response/revisions-subpart-j-national-contingency-plan-product-listing-and-authorization.   


The EPA revised the National Contingency Plan in 1994 in response to passage of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, to address requirements for listing and authorizing use of chemical and biological agent products when responding to oil discharges into federal waters and adjoining shorelines.

On July 27, 2021, the EPA finalized monitoring requirements under of the NCP for dispersant use in response to major oil discharges and certain other atypical dispersant use situations into waters of the United States and adjoining shorelines.