Cantwell Bill Takes Steps to Contain, Clean Up Ocean Oil Spills

Maria Cantwell, D-WA, has introduced the Oil Spill Research and Technology Act of
2012, to create grants to support research and development of technologies to better
contain and clean up all types of oil spills.
bill also requires the US Coast Guard to establish a program to evaluate and implement
“best available technology” to effectively respond to and clean up oil spills, Cantwell
Bill 3298, would reorganize and streamline the Federal Oil Spill Research Committee,
whose members include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Coast
Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, and Interior Department, as recommended
last year by the Government Accountability Office. 
committee would spearhead a comprehensive oil spill research and development program
and distribute competitive grants to universities and other institutions to research
new methods and technologies to clean up oil spills. Notably, the bill would require
research into methods to clean up oil spills in icy conditions and into the unique
properties of tar sands oil.
said according to some reports Canadian companies are poised to increase by 300
percent traffic of supertankers carrying tar sands oil through the waters around
the San Juan Islands and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. 
from tar sands is uniquely difficult to remove after a spill, because it’s more
corrosive than other types of oil and contains heavy metals. Tar sands oil also
sinks, which renders ineffective conventional techniques to contain and remove oil
from the water’s surface.
bill would authorize the Coast Guard to thoroughly review and evaluate new oil spill
response technology, and review regional oil spill response plans every five years
to ensure the best available technology is in place.
senator said the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 demonstrated the chronic underinvestment
in oil spill research and development. The industry currently lacks incentives and
requirements to research, develop and adopt new cleanup technologies, even those
that are proven effective, she said. Among the new oil spill response technologies
are oil solidifiers, blowout preventers, new techniques to break down spilled oil,
fiber membranes to strain oil from water and software to ensure equipment works
properly during clean up.