Image above: Test Burn in Broken Ice on North Slope 1983.
Oil spill contingency planning requires information that supports choices of response method: mechanical recovery, chemical dispersion, and/or in-situ burning. Regarding possible spills in the Arctic, the value of in situ burning as a possible primary response option depends on ice cover, among other factors. Chemical agents, known as thickening agents or “herders” may enhance the opportunities and effectiveness for in situ burning. With careful evaluation of the physical and chemical processes involved with herder application and subsequent burning, industry, government, Alaskan natives and other interested parties will be better able to assess the usefulness of this response option and judge the safety and effectiveness of herder use in the Arctic, as well as estimate its effects on the environment.