CRISIS SCIENCE: INVESTIGATIONS IN RESPONSE TO THE ARGO MERCHANT OIL SPILL

The Argo Merchant oil spill on Nantucket Shoals in December 1976, was the focus of a massive scientific investigation. More than 200 scientists were involved in predicting and studying the fate and effects of the spill, at a cost exceeding $800,000. The report outlines three reasons scientists might want to take action following a spill and points out that previous post-spill activities have been somewhat less than successful in meeting these goals. The scientific work following the Argo Merchant spill is then reviewed as a case study of such post-spill science. The story of how the scientific response developed is told more or less chronologically and the scientific quality of the various endeavors evaluated. It is found that despite its size, the scientific follow-up to the spill was not as good as it could have been. This was partly because of science's limited understanding of spills and limited ability to interpret data; but it was also partly because of logistical and institutional factors. The case is made that studying a spill is in many ways as demanding as trying to clean it up. A quick and efficient response is needed on extremely short notice to prevent valuable data from being lost and to provide scientific input into the cleanup effort in a timely manner. It is argued that it is virtually impossible to expect a good response to be mounted from scratch after a spill occurs. Some sort of research contingency plan is needed. The report concludes with some guidelines for formulation of such a plan.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Price is $0.00.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Department of Civil Engineering, 77 Massachusetts Avenue
    Cambridge, MA  USA  02139
  • Authors:
    • Pollack, A M
    • Stolzenbach, K D
  • Publication Date: 1978-6

Media Info

  • Pagination: n.p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00179404
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Report/Paper Numbers: MITSG 78-8
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 27 1978 12:00AM