The National Environmental Council published on 09/12/2015 the Resolution no. 472 of 27/11/2015 setting forth provisions on the use of chemical dispersants to combat oil spills at sea, revoking the CONAMA Resolution no. 269 of 14/09/200 which previously set forth provisions on this same matter.

The Resolution defines chemicals dispersants as chemical formulations composed of solvent and surfactant agents (tension-active) used to decrease the oil-water interfacial tension and to stabilize the oil dispersion into droplets in the water surface and column.

The Resolution lays down that the production, importation, sales, and use of chemical dispersants to combat oil pollution incidents at sea can only be made after registration of the product with the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA). 

The referred application shall be previously communicated to the IBAMA by means of an appropriate form. If applicable, said communication can be made to the state environmental agency of the coastal State of the Federation where the incident occurred.

It should be highlighted that the Resolution only allows the use of chemical dispersants as a technique to combat oil pollution incidents when the non- intervention or application of mechanical methods of containment, collection,  and dispersion are not effective,  inapplicable or insufficient, except in situations of imminent risk of fire or to safeguard the human life at sea, involving offshore installations or ships.

Additionally, the use of chemical dispersants are admitted in the event of:

a) situations in which the oil slick is moving or may move to areas designated as environmentally sensitive areas; 

b) incidents with continuous spillage, or significant oil volumes when other oil spill response techniques are not effective or insufficient;

c) underwater application only to allow the procedures necessary for interrupting an incontrollable spillage of an oil well; and 

d) emulsified oil, known as "chocolate mousse", or weathered oil should the chemical dispersant be effective, based on field tests.

The resolution forbids the use of chemical dispersants in environmentally sensitive areas detailed in the resolution and during the cleaning of any type of vessel, as well as in pieces of equipment used in the oil spillage response operation. The resolution also lists the locations of restricted use of the product, where the application will be contingent on the environmental agency IBAMA's previous authorization. The exceptional use of chemical dispersants in other situations not anticipated shall also be previously authorized by the IBAMA.

The resolution requires that the application of chemical dispersants on the surface or underwater be monitored by air and sea aiming at maximizing the effectiveness of its use and avoid the contamination of areas not affected by the oil, as well as the environmental monitoring.

After concluding the application, the agent responsible for combating the oil pollution shall send a Report of Application of Chemical Dispersant to the Brazilian environmental agency (IBAMA), within 15 (fifteen) days counted from the conclusion of the operation of application, containing an integrated analysis of all data and possible environmental and socioeconomic impacts caused by the use of chemical dispersants.

The resolution entered into effect on the date of its publication.

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