Salt Marsh in Louisiana (Photo: Fish and Wildlife Service)

EPA has awarded $2M in STAR research grants to strengthen public health and ecosystem protection from oil spill contaminants in the Gulf of Mexico. Four university groups, including partnerships with Gulf state universities, have been selected to work collaboratively with affected communities to identify significant risks posed by oil spills to human health and the environment, obtain their input in the design of research to help the communities address these challenges, and provide technical assistance to them so that they can use the research results. Some of the communities in which the researchers will be working include: Cocodrie, Grand Isle, Delacroix, Belle Chase, Lafitte and Golden Meadow-Leeville in Louisiana as well as in Mobile, Alabama. Research developed through this program will lead to cost-effective innovative technologies to mitigate the impact of oil spills including development of effective oil dispersants, surface washing agents, bioremediation agents, and other mitigation measures with low environmental impact.

This research will provide information to minimize the risk of delays in treating oil spills, and provide comfort to communities that there will be a deployable technology that enables a rapid response to contamination of water with oil. An additional anticipated outcome is the empowerment of these communities to more actively participate in the decision making process related to the mitigation of the environmental impacts as well as an improved ability to respond to future oil spills.

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