When they do happen, oil spills can be nasty, and the company responsible will likely enter emergency panic mode as it responds to contain and clean up the oil.
What is closure?
Closure means having the right data collected, and the right amount of data, to demonstrate to regulators and public stakeholders that the oil spill has been properly and thoroughly cleaned up. If you’ve read my previous blogs, this fits nicely with the definition of the term “forensics,” our primary focus at Chemistry Matters. There is no magic data or perfect studies required to reach closure. It is driven by the personnel responding to the spill, the company responsible for the spill, and, to an extent, the external stakeholders involved in the spill.
A Unique Perspective
- An understanding of all the chemicals involved in a spill and how they behave in the environment.
- Understand the science involved in the measurement of contaminants in environmental samples, both to look at QAQC issues and to identify issues with how samples are collected, which could cause problematic and erroneous data.
- As the central science, chemists not only see the importance of proper data quality and sampling, but also can relate what the measurements of the samples collected can be used for. One example is how high-quality data can be used for risk assessment purposes.
- Understand the toxicity of the chemicals involved in the crude oil to know what’s important to collect - especially from a risk perspective, but also from a stakeholder perspective - to ensure that anticipated stakeholder concerns are covered during all phases of the spill response, from beginning to end.
- Chemists know the relative physical-chemical properties of the chemicals released into the environment, allowing chemists to quickly determine how long chemicals exist in the different environmental media, and how they behave relative to each other.