Court orders EPA to update regulations related to use of dispersants on oil spills

A coalition of environmental groups and individuals has won a lawsuit in federal district court that will require the US Environmental Protection Agency to update its decades-old regulations on the use of toxic chemical dispersants in oil spill responses.

In June 2020, as part of this case, US District Court Judge William Orrick ruled that the Clean Water Act imposes on the EPA a duty to maintain an up-to-date plan for oil-spill response that reflects current science and technology.

This includes science demonstrating that dispersant chemicals are toxic to humans and ecologically damaging.

This week’s ruling, also by Judge Orrick, says the EPA violated that duty by failing to update the regulations in more than 25 years.

The EPA must now update and finalize its regulations by May 31, 2023.

“This ruling sets us on a path toward protecting the health and wellbeing of our waters, wildlife and people from exposure to dangerous dispersant chemicals that exacerbate the toxicity of oil,” said Pamela Miller, executive director of plaintiff Alaska Community Action on Toxics.

Kim Biggar

Kim Biggar started writing in the supply chain sector in 2000, when she joined the Canadian Association of Supply Chain & Logistics Management. In 2004/2005, she was project manager for the Government of Canada-funded Canadian Logistics Skills Committee, which led to her 13-year role as communications manager of the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council. A longtime freelance writer, Kim has contributed to publications including The Forwarder, 3PL Americas, The Shipper Advocate and Supply Chain Canada.
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