Capstone Title

The Use of Dispersants to Treat Oil Spills in the Marine Environment

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Bart J. Baca

Second Advisor

Richard E. Dodge


The purpose of this paper is to review the effectiveness and performance of different types of modern dispersants, assessing factors such as type of oil, application method, temperature, salinity, and the mixing energy. A discussion of the effectiveness of dispersants to remove oil from different marine environments, such as mangrove, salt marsh, tidal flat, coral reef, seagrass, sandy beaches, and rocky shores, is also presented.

As stated, several options exist besides dispersants to respond to oil spill such as oil burning, mechanical methods, biological treatment, and natural cleanup. The effectiveness of each method is limited by several factors such as the nature of the oil slick, the location of the spill, sea condition, and the weather (NRC, 1989). Since each oil spill is unique in its characteristics and the surrounding environment, none of these methods are wholely effective in removing oil from water. In most cases the use of more than one method 1s recommended to achieve better results. Therefore, a discussion of other methods is also provided and compared to dispersant effectiveness.

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