|Deepwater Horizon response workers. Credit: Aaron Sussell, NIOSH/CDC|
Special Monitoring of Applied Response Technologies (SMART) is a cooperatively designed monitoring program for onsite burning and dispersants. SMART relies on small, highly mobile teams that collect real-time data using portable, rugged, and easy-to-use instruments during dispersant and on site burning operations.
Data are channeled to the Unified Command to address critical questions: Are dispersants effective in dispersing the oil? Are particulates concentration trends at sensitive locations exceeding the level of concern? Having monitoring data can assist the Unified Command with decision-making for dispersant and on site burning operations.
|Aircraft drops dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico. Credit: RestoreTheGulf.gov|
To monitor the efficacy of dispersant application, SMART recommends three options, or tiers.
- Tier I A trained observer, flying over the oil slick and using photographic job aids or advanced remote sensing instruments, assesses dispersant efficacy and reports back to the Unified Command.
- Tier II Tier II provides real-time data from the treated slick. A sampling team on a boat uses a fluorometer to continuously monitor for dispersed oil one meter under the dispersant-treated slick. The team records and conveys fluorometer data to the Scientific Support Team, which forwards it with recommendations to the Unified Command. Water samples also are taken for later analysisat a laboratory.
- Tier III By expanding the monitoring efforts in several ways, Tier III provides information on where the dispersed oil goes and what happens to it: (1) two fluorometers are used on the same vessel to monitor at two water depths; (2) monitoring is conducted in the center of the treated slick at several water depths, from one to ten meters; and (3) a portable water laboratory provides data on water temperature, pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity.
In Situ Burning
|Gathered concentrated oil burns during a controlled oil fire in the Gulf of Mexico. Credit: Washington Department of Ecology|
For onsite burning operations, SMART recommends deploying one or more monitoring teams downwind of the burn at sensitive locations such as population centers. The teams begin sampling before the burn begins to collect background data.
After the burn starts, the teams continue sampling for particulate concentration trends, recording them both manually at fixed intervals and automatically in the data logger, and reporting to the Monitoring Group Supervisor if the level of concern is exceeded. The Scientific Support Team forwards the data, with recommendations, to the Unified Command.
SMART has already been successfully tested in the field. SMART was used to monitor dispersant applications in the Gulf of Mexico, and in February 1999 it was used to monitor the onsite burning of the New Carissa off Coos Bay, Oregon. Spills and exercises like these help us to enhance SMART.