Applied Response Technologies (ART) and Oil Spill Cleanup Agents (OSCAs)

Applied Response Technologies

Applied Response Technologies (ART) generally fall into two main categories:

  • Use of an oil spill cleanup agent (such as dispersants, surface washing agents, oil gelling or solidifying agents, oil herding agents, de-emulsifiers, bioremediants, and sorbents, or;
  • Use of oil burning (in-situ burning, or ISB), either on water or on land.

ART plans are maintained by the Regional Response Team (RRT) as part of their Regional Contingency Plan (RCP). Please see Federal Region 9 Contingency Plan(opens in new tab) for the most recent RRT-approved plans. Appendix X covers ART Selection, Appendix XI covers use of non-dispersant and non-bioremediant oil spill cleanup agents, Appendix XII is the California Dispersant Plan, Appendix XIII covers in-situ burning, and Appendix XIV covers bioremediants.

All of the RRT/RCP plans for use of in-situ burning and non-dispersant oil spill cleanup agents are out-of-date. Please contact Annie Nelson if you have additional questions about the ART decision-use processes or the status of the ART updates. Draft updates will be posted as soon as they become available.

OSPR has a seat on the RRT, and will assist with all ART use decisions and approvals, as appropriate to the authorities and jurisdictions of the RRT member agencies and the location and nature of each spill incident.

The OSPR Administrator also has decision authority (in addition to OSPR role on the RRT) for use of all ARTs affecting state waters.

Oil Spill Cleanup Agents (OSCAs)

Government Code Section 8670.13.1 requires the Administrator of the Office of Spill Prevention and Response to license all oil spill cleanup agents for use in the waters of the State. An oil spill cleanup agent (OSCA) is defined as a chemical, or any other substance, used for removing, dispersing, or otherwise cleaning up oil or any residual products of petroleum in, or on, any waters of the state. As mentioned above, this category of substances would include surface washing agents, dispersants, gelling agents, herding agents, emulsifiers and de-mulsifiers, chemical booms, sorbents and bioremediants. Within the Office of Spill Prevention and Response, the licensing of OSCAs is done within the Response Technology Branch.

All OSCAs licensed for use in California must still be approved for use on a case-by-case basis at the time of an oil spill incident. This means that although a product can be used, it does not necessarily have to be used to address all circumstances. In addition to licensing in California, an OSCA must also be listed on EPA's NCP Product Schedule(opens in new tab). It is up to the discretion of the Unified Command to determine the appropriateness of any particular OSCA to address any particular situation and through formal request and approval of the Region IX Regional Response Team (RRT)(opens in new tab). Once the RRT grants approval, a product can be used.

Both the EPA Product Schedule and the OSPR Licensing Guidance Document are in the process of update. For more specific information on OSCA licensing (or exemption) for use in California oil spill response, please contact Annie Nelson.

List of the current products licensed by OSPR, or reviewed by OSPR and subsequently exempted, may be found here:


Annie Nelson
Phone: (916) 202-1656

Office of Spill Prevention and Response
Mailing: P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
(916) 375-8580 for OSPR Information

Report Oil Spills
(800) 852-7550 or (800) OILS-911

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