Notice of Availability for GENWEST EDRC Study and the National Academy of Sciences Letter Report (on the GENWEST Study); Comment Request, 45832-45837 [2014-18608]

Download as PDF 45832 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 151 / Wednesday, August 6, 2014 / Notices DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services [OMB Control Number 1615–0057] Agency Information Collection Activities: Application of Certificate of Citizenship, Form N–600; Extension, Without Change, of a Currently Approved Collection ACTION: 60-Day Notice. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) invites the general public and other Federal agencies to comment upon this proposed extension of a currently approved collection of information. In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995, the information collection notice is published in the Federal Register to obtain comments regarding the nature of the information collection, the categories of respondents, the estimated burden (i.e. the time, effort, and resources used by the respondents to respond), the estimated cost to the respondent, and the actual information collection instruments. DATES: Comments are encouraged and will be accepted for 60 days until October 6, 2014. ADDRESSES: All submissions received must include the OMB Control Number 1615–0057 in the subject box, the agency name and Docket ID USCIS– 2006–0023. To avoid duplicate submissions, please use only one of the following methods to submit comments: (1) Online. Submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal Web site at www.regulations.gov under e-Docket ID number USCIS–2006–0023; (2) Email. Submit comments to USCISFRComment@uscis.dhs.gov; (3) Mail. Submit written comments to DHS, USCIS, Office of Policy and Strategy, Chief, Regulatory Coordination Division, 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20529–2140. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Comments Regardless of the method used for submitting comments or material, all submissions will be posted, without change, to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov, and will include any personal information you provide. Therefore, submitting this information makes it public. You may wish to consider limiting the amount of personal VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:14 Aug 05, 2014 Jkt 232001 information that you provide in any voluntary submission you make to DHS. DHS may withhold information provided in comments from public viewing that it determines may impact the privacy of an individual or is offensive. For additional information, please read the Privacy Act notice that is available via the link in the footer of http://www.regulations.gov. Note: The address listed in this notice should only be used to submit comments concerning this information collection. Please do not submit requests for individual case status inquiries to this address. If you are seeking information about the status of your individual case, please check ‘‘My Case Status’’ online at: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/ Dashboard.do, or call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1–800–375–5283. Written comments and suggestions from the public and affected agencies should address one or more of the following four points: (1) Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) Evaluate the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses. Overview of This Information Collection (1) Type of Information Collection: Extension, Without Change, of a Currently Approved Collection. (2) Title of the Form/Collection: Application for Certificate of Citizenship. (3) Agency form number, if any, and the applicable component of the DHS sponsoring the collection: N–600; USCIS. (4) Affected public who will be asked or required to respond, as well as a brief abstract: Primary: Individuals or households. USCIS uses the information on Form N–600 to make a determination that the citizenship eligibility requirements and conditions are met by the applicant so that a certificate of citizenship can be generated. PO 00000 Frm 00079 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 (5) An estimate of the total number of respondents and the amount of time estimated for an average respondent to respond: The estimated total number of respondents for the information collection N–600 is 57,000 and the estimated hour burden per response is 1.6 hours. (6) An estimate of the total public burden (in hours) associated with the collection: The total estimated annual hour burden associated with this collection is 91,200 hours. (7) An estimate of the total public burden (in cost) associated with the collection: The estimated total annual cost burden associated with this collection of information is $6,982,500 If you need a copy of the information collection instrument with instructions, or additional information, please visit the Federal eRulemaking Portal site at: http://www.regulations.gov. We may also be contacted at: USCIS, Office of Policy and Strategy, Regulatory Coordination Division, 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20529–2140, Telephone number 202–272–8377. Dated: July 31, 2014. Samantha Deshommes, Supervisory Economist, Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security. [FR Doc. 2014–18543 Filed 8–5–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111–97–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement [Docket ID: BSEE–2014–0006; 14XE8370SD ED1OS0000.JAE000 EEGG000000] Notice of Availability for GENWEST EDRC Study and the National Academy of Sciences Letter Report (on the GENWEST Study); Comment Request ACTION: Notice. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is inviting you to provide comments on the GENWEST Systems, Inc., Effective Daily Recovery Capacity (EDRC) Study, National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Letter Report summarizing its peer review of the GENWEST Study, and comments provided by BSEE regarding each document. Background: EDRC is a calculation method established within BSEE’s and the United States Coast Guard’s (USCG) regulations to assign an oil recovery capability value to oil skimming SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\06AUN1.SGM 06AUN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 151 / Wednesday, August 6, 2014 / Notices equipment. Although the EDRC methodology was finalized in the early 1990’s and has been an integral component of industry response planning and readiness for the past 20 years, the methodology came under heavy scrutiny in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This spurred an open debate and ongoing dialogue on how to best improve the EDRC planning standard. In late 2011, BSEE contracted with GENWEST Systems Inc. to evaluate the EDRC methodology and to develop recommendations for improving the planning standard for the mechanical recovery of oil on water. GENWEST’s final report produced the concept of Estimated Recovery System Potential (ERSP), an oil encounter rate-based calculator that evaluates mechanical recovery equipment as a complete system as opposed to focusing on an individual component such as a skimmer or an intake pump. Shortly thereafter, BSEE contracted the National Research Council’s Ocean Studies Board to conduct an independent, third party peer review of the ERSP methodology. The resulting National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Peer Review Letter Report validated the ERSP standard as a sound methodology and a significant improvement over EDRC. The peer review also identified a number of areas for further consideration where ERSP might be improved. BSEE is continuing to develop and refine the ERSP methodology, with the intent of evaluating ERSP as a potential revision to BSEE’s oil spill response plan (OSRP) regulations. This notice provides a high level summary of some of the key elements of both documents, as well as BSEE comments regarding each document. It also includes BSEE’s response to recommendations in the NAS Letter Report. While the development of a new planning standard for calculating the mechanical recovery of spills continues to undergo additional research and refinement, this notice provides an early opportunity for public viewing and comment on the GENWEST EDRC Study and NAS Letter Report documents which are available in the regulations.gov docket ID: BSEE– 2014–0006 and on the BSEE Web site at http://www.bsee.gov/Research-andTraining/Oil-Spill-Response-Research/ Projects/Project-673/, as well as an opportunity to comment on the BSEE’s responses to the findings and recommendations contained in each document. DATES: You must submit comments by October 6, 2014. The BSEE may not fully consider comments received after VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:14 Aug 05, 2014 Jkt 232001 this date. While BSEE does not intend to publish another notice in the Federal Register solely to respond to comments submitted to this specific request, all comments received will be posted in the docket and considered as inputs into the ongoing analyses regarding the effort to improve the existing EDRC planning standard, and will become part of the official agency record for this project. As such, the contents of any comments received may be used and/or cited, as appropriate, in the preambles of future BSEE rulemaking documents that would implement an updated mechanical oil recovery planning standard as part of BSEE’s OSRP regulations. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments and additional materials by any of the following methods. • Electronically: Go to http:// www.regulations.gov. In the Search for box, enter BSEE–2014–0006, then click search. Follow the instructions to submit public comments and view supporting and related materials available for this notice. • Email: oilspillresponsedivision@ bsee.gov or mail or hand-carry comments to the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Oil Spill Response Division, 381 Elden Street, HE 3327, Herndon, Virginia 20170, Attention: Mr. John Caplis. Please reference GENWEST EDRC Study and the National Academy of Sciences Letter Report in your comments and include your name and return address. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. John Caplis, Oil Spill Response Division, 703–787–1364, john.caplis@ bsee.gov to request additional information about this notice. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Current EDRC Planning Standard: The current EDRC planning standard was developed as part of a negotiated rulemaking process involving Federal and state government, industry, and non-governmental organizations following the passage of the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990 (Pub. L. 10, 1–380, Aug 18, 1990, as amended). This regulatory methodology was intended to quantify the amount of oil spill response equipment (i.e., skimmers) needed by plan holders for an effective response to their worst-case discharge (WCD) spill scenario. The formula for EDRC has not changed since its adoption in 1992: EDRC = T × 24 hours × E In this formula, ‘‘T’’ is a skimmer’s throughput (or recovery) rate in ‘‘barrels per hour’’ and ‘‘E’’ is an efficiency factor that was set at 20 percent (or 0.2). In practice, the method has been applied as the hourly throughput rate PO 00000 Frm 00080 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 45833 (as determined by the manufacturer’s assigned nameplate recovery rate) multiplied by 24 hours and then discounted by a 20 percent efficiency factor. The result is an estimate of the number of barrels (bbls) of oil that can be recovered in any daily operational period. If a skimmer requires a pump that determines the throughput of fluids, the pump capacity becomes the determining factor in assigning an EDRC value to a piece of skimming equipment. The 20 percent efficiency (de-rating) factor was determined through consensus by an Oil Spill Response Plan Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee. The de-rating factor accounts for a mix of environmental and operational considerations (such as temperature, sea state, oil viscosity, hours of daylight, the presence of debris, and the ability to separate oil and water) that would limit or reduce the effectiveness of a skimmer’s capability to recover oil over a 24-hour operational period. There are other critical influences on mechanical recovery that were not incorporated into the EDRC calculation. Some of the most important factors omitted include oil encounter rate (i.e., the rate at which a skimmer is able to access spilled oil), onboard storage capacity, and human factors (proficiency in skimmer operation). Observations and Criticisms of EDRC During the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: The Deepwater Horizon oil spill dramatically highlighted how mechanical recovery systems can be significantly limited by low encounter rates. Emanating from a well nearly a mile below the ocean surface, the spilled oil surfaced over a wide geographical area and had already thinned much in terms of oil thickness. The oil slick that was available for recovery was widely discontinuous, had a large, expanding areal footprint, and a rapidly diminishing surface thickness. An unprecedented quantity of skimmers, boom, and other types of spill response equipment were cascaded in from across the United States, as well as from other nations, resulting in a massive amount of offshore mechanical recovery capability that was used during the response. Despite this effort, the aforementioned factors worked against the mechanical recovery task forces operating offshore—reducing their overall effectiveness in encountering, containing and recovering the oil. As a result, significant amounts of shoreline oiling occurred across the Gulf of Mexico. Both government and industrysponsored lessons learned reports identified the performance and effectiveness of skimming systems as a E:\FR\FM\06AUN1.SGM 06AUN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 45834 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 151 / Wednesday, August 6, 2014 / Notices focal point in their observations and findings. The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling’s Final Report, BP Deepwater Horizon Incident Specific Preparedness Review (ISPR) Final Report, and Joint Industry Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Task Force (JITF) Second Progress Report all highlight the limitations of the EDRC methodology, and recommend improvement of the mechanical recovery planning standard. The National Commission report states that EDRC should be revised to encourage the development of more efficient systems. The BP Deepwater Horizon ISPR Report points out that the total EDRC for equipment used on-scene during the spill far exceeded BP’s mandated OSRP requirements. However, this extensive armada of mechanical recovery equipment did not recover oil quantities that corresponded to their aggregated EDRC values. The ISPR Report recommends that the regulations be revised to include a reliable, dynamic efficiency measure that accurately reflects the limitations of encountering significant volumes of oil on the water, and also should encourage more research and development to improve the effectiveness of skimmer systems. The JITF Second Progress Report states that government and industry must recognize the limitations of existing mechanical recovery equipment, and pursue incentives to improve boom and skimmer designs, especially in the offshore environment. Furthermore, the JITF also recommends that the government revisit the EDRC regulations in order to determine if improvements to the planning standard are necessary. The EDRC Study: Through a competitive procurement, BSEE initiated a third party, independent research contract to: (1) Evaluate existing EDRC methodologies, (2) examine de-rating in order to identify the key variables that impact skimming system recovery rates, (3) develop recommendations for an improved mechanical recovery planning standard, and (4) create a user-friendly, computerbased planning tool based on those recommendations. GENWEST Systems, Inc., a private sector information management and environmental services consulting firm, was awarded the research contract in September 2011 and completed its final project report in December 2012. The capstone of the GENWEST report is a new methodology and computer- VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:14 Aug 05, 2014 Jkt 232001 based planning tool for estimating mechanical oil recovery capability called the ERSP calculator. Based on algorithms similar to those within the GENWEST developed Response Options Calculator, the ERSP calculator is an oil encounter-rate based planning tool that measures the performance of an entire mechanical recovery skimming system. The ERSP calculator addresses the effect of encounter rate on a skimmer through three key variables: The swath width of the skimming system configuration, the speed of advance of the skimming system relative to the motion of the oil slick, and the thickness of the oil being collected. The calculator uses three different nominal oil thicknesses that decrease with time over a 3-day period in order to model the reduced amounts of oil available to a skimming system due to the effects of spreading. The selection of the nominal oil thickness values (0.1 inch for Day 1, 0.05 inch for Day 2, and 0.025 inch for Day 3) are based on the results of over 400 computer simulations of oil spreading where temperature, wind, discharge volume, and oil type were varied in different combinations. The three resulting thicknesses that were selected are representational values that are reasonably acceptable across a wide range of scenarios. The calculator enables the plan holder to input customized values for both the swath width and the speed of advance for a skimming system, which are then used to estimate areal coverage for a recovery system during an operational period. The calculator then applies the nominal oil thicknesses to the areal coverage achieved in order to estimate the oil encountered. The next steps in the ERSP methodology apply the ‘‘recovery’’ parameters of the skimming system to the amount of the oil encountered. These parameters include an estimate of the oil recovered compared to the total volume of the fluids recovered (i.e., the oil/water recovery ratio otherwise referred to as the system’s Recovery Efficiency), an estimate of the oil removed compared to the oil encountered (i.e., the effectiveness of the containment elements of the skimming system as opposed to entrainment of the oil, referred to as Throughput Efficiency), the skimmer nameplate recovery rate, the amount of onboard fluid storage, decanting or oil/ water separation abilities, intake and offload pump rates, and offloading set up and transit times. The application of the ‘‘encounter rate’’ and ‘‘recovery’’ system variables, when applied to the available oil thicknesses for each operational period, create estimates of PO 00000 Frm 00081 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 the system’s effective recovery potentials for Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 of a spill. If a skimming system’s configuration remains fixed over time, then the recovery potential of the system will decrease from day to day as the oil available for skimming also decreases; however, a skimming system’s configuration can often be adjusted during subsequent operational periods to maintain or minimize the loss of recovery potential. The National Academy of Sciences Letter Report: The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a nonprofit, selfperpetuating society of scholars dedicated to the furtherance and use of science and technology for the general welfare. Under the charter granted to it by Congress, the Academy has a mandate to advise the Federal government on scientific and technical matters. The National Research Council was organized by the NAS as the principal operating agency for the Academies in providing services to government, the public, and the scientific communities. In the spring of 2013, BSEE contracted the National Research Council’s Ocean Studies Board to conduct an objective technical evaluation of the GENWEST EDRC Report and the ERSP methodology. The Ocean Studies Board assembled an ad hoc study committee of five subject matter experts that completed and delivered their Peer Review Letter Report in November of 2013. The Letter Report concluded that the ERSP methodology was sound and a substantial improvement over the current EDRC methodology. While the committee cited many improvements, they felt that the greatest strength of the new ERSP methodology was its evaluation of the entire skimming system as a whole as opposed to any single part of it. The committee’s most significant concerns regarding the ERSP’s methodology focused on the nominal oil thicknesses selected by the GENWEST team. These thicknesses were meant to be representative of the ‘‘thickest’’ oil available during each operational period. The ERSP methodology assumes that a skimming system will be able to operate in oil at these nominal thickness values for the entire time it is skimming during the operational periods on the first three days. The committee, however, felt that the real distribution of thick oil will be discontinuous, or patchy, and that the ERSP model should address this factor in its calculations. The Letter Report also goes on to suggest that some field observations for slick thicknesses are generally less than those used by the ERSP calculator. The study E:\FR\FM\06AUN1.SGM 06AUN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 151 / Wednesday, August 6, 2014 / Notices committee concluded that the GENWEST thicknesses are likely to overestimate actual encounter rates and would provide an overly optimistic assessment of a skimming system’s actual recovery potential. The committee recommended applying a ‘‘patchiness de-rating factor’’ to the encounter rate calculation, and also suggested adding the ability to enter different oil thickness values into the calculator. Encounter rates would then be adjusted for the discontinuous nature of the thick oil patches, and more customized thicknesses could be entered into the calculator based on the circumstances of the release scenario and the particular properties of the plan holder’s oil type. The committee also recommended that regulators work with the GENWEST team to develop a more detailed user manual that would further explain the ERSP calculator assumptions, provide additional guidance to users on the selection of certain input values, and would provide default values for some of the more uncertain or unknown parameters. The committee also recommended the use of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard F2709–08, as the means to determine the Nameplate Recovery Rate value in the ERSP calculator. Finally, the committee recommended a broader approach of considering all potential response options in future rulemakings. BSEE Comments Regarding the GENWEST Study: BSEE believes the GENWEST EDRC study provides a solid foundational work for building an improved mechanical recovery planning standard. The ERSP methodology has necessarily sacrificed the increased accuracy of a more complex and customizable model in order to create a simple, accessible planning tool that is applicable across a wide range of planning scenarios. In striking this important balance, the ERSP methodology successfully addresses many of the issues identified concerning EDRC, and also incorporates some key compromises into its assumptions and algorithms that BSEE will have to examine carefully. BSEE submits the following statements for public review and comment regarding its assessment of the ERSP calculator and the GENWEST EDRC Study: ERSP Creates Incentives for More Effective Skimming Systems: The ERSP methodology is a practical approach to evaluating mechanical oil recovery systems that includes incentives for improving system performance. The ERSP calculator rewards recovery systems that maximize encounter rate VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:14 Aug 05, 2014 Jkt 232001 and minimize skimming downtime during offloading periods. The calculator provides plan holders and Oil Spill Removal Organizations (OSROs) with a very useful tool for assessing and comparing different configurations for almost any type of skimming system. Plan holders can input different values into the calculator for many of the recovery system’s variables, such as swath width, speed, decanting, onboard storage, and pump rates, in order to explore the resultant effects on encounter rate and recovery potential. Plan holders and OSROs will be able to identify the parameters that will best increase a system’s recovery potential, and should be able to use this information to guide their design, investment, and operational deployment decisions. The calculator’s algorithms will encourage plan holders and OSROs to acquire and configure skimming systems with higher areal coverage rates (through increased swath widths or increased speeds of advance relative to the motion of the oil), higher nameplate capacities and recovery efficiencies, and more effective collection and containment arrangements that limit the entrainment of oil. The calculator will also create incentives for developing skimming systems that have increased onboard storage, faster oil transfer rates, and effective decanting capabilities. ERSP Challenges in the Nearshore and Inshore Operating Environments: ERSP algorithms and operating incentives are well suited for offshore skimming operations, but are less so for the nearshore and inland operating environments. Decanting in the offshore environment provides a tremendous advantage that maximizes the use of onboard storage and reduces offload times. However, decanting is not realistic for many nearshore and inshore scenarios. In more confined, shallow areas, skimming systems with large swath widths and large onboard or tethered storage solutions are likely to be ineffective. Advancing skimmers used in nearshore areas will still require high recovery efficiencies; however, shallow drafts and maneuverability now become more important than large swath widths and bulky onboard storage arrangements. As a result, many nearshore skimming systems are likely to have ERSP potential values significantly below their EDRC ratings, despite being optimally configured for their operating environments. Mechanical recovery in inshore areas is even more disassociated with many of the incentives of the ERSP calculator, as mechanical recovery in these settings often relies on deflection and collection PO 00000 Frm 00082 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 45835 booming and stationary skimming arrangements. While ERSP may still be a useful measure of potential in the nearshore area, limits may be necessary on the use of certain ERSP variables, such as swath width and decanting. It may also be necessary to consider a mixture of different equipment rating schemes and requirements for mechanical recovery in these operating environments. The rating of skimming systems and the reviews of OSRPs in these operating areas may require a more scenario-based approach than regulators have used in the past. ERSP Emphasizes a Rapid Response Capability: As the calculator applies substantially decreasing oil thicknesses over the first 3 days of a spill, the ERSP methodology creates a powerful incentive for skimming systems to arrive onsite as quickly as possible. The calculator clearly demonstrates that plan holders and responders will reach a point of diminishing returns for bringing in additional mechanical recovery equipment as time progresses and oil becomes less available for skimming. While this circumstance is somewhat mitigated during a sustained release such as a well blowout (where there may be fresh, thick, concentrated oil available each day), the fact remains that mechanical recovery equipment performs at its highest recovery potential in the earliest hours of a spill when encounter rates can be maximized. ERSP Does not Address Staging, Mobilization, or Transit Times: While the ERSP methodology emphasizes a rapid response, it does not factor into its calculations the time it takes to mobilize and deliver a mechanical recovery system to the site of a spill. GENWEST, at the direction of BSEE, used a fixed operational period of 12 hours for the EDRC Study, and did not incorporate the effects of equipment mobilization and delivery times on recovery potentials. The ERSP calculator does, however, have an input variable for each day’s ‘‘operating period’’, which could be reduced to account for these factors related to response time. The OSROs and plan holders could adjust the operating period accordingly if BSEE provides guidance on how to account for each mobilization factor. The BSEE currently does not factor response times into its regulations and currently does not require adjustments to EDRC values based on mobilization times. Additional guidance and regulations may be needed in order to adequately account for mobilization times when inputting the operational period into the ERSP calculator. E:\FR\FM\06AUN1.SGM 06AUN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 45836 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 151 / Wednesday, August 6, 2014 / Notices ERSP Calculations Assumes the Use of Best Practices and Best Commercially Available Technology: In the selection of representative oil thicknesses for each operational period, the ERSP calculator assumes that operators will be using the best technologies commercially available, such as remote sensing tools, as well as operational best practices, in their skimming activities. This is especially important for ensuring operator proficiency, and for identifying, tracking, and keeping recovery systems in thick oil continuously during skimming operations. If operators do not employ such technology and best practices, then the ERSP calculator is likely to provide an overstated recovery potential for a system. The calculator does not include any built in incentives for the use of these critical best practices and technologies. Creating these incentives or requirements may therefore have to be addressed through regulatory requirements, industry standards, and recommended practices. BSEE Comments Regarding the NAS Letter Report: The BSEE agrees with the NAS Letter Report findings that the new approach for evaluating mechanical recovery equipment, Estimated Recovery System Potential (ERSP), is basically sound and an improvement over methods currently employed by BSEE and USCG oil spill response planning regulations. The BSEE also acknowledges each of the insightful recommendations offered for possible improvement in the NAS Peer Review Letter Report, and has carefully considered their potential for improving the existing EDRC and proposed ERSP methodologies. As stated earlier in this document, BSEE believes that the ERSP methodology has necessarily sacrificed a degree of accuracy associated with a more complex and customizable model in order to create a simple, accessible planning tool that is applicable across a wide range of planning scenarios. In striking this important balance, the ERSP methodology successfully addresses many of the issues concerning EDRC, but also incorporates some key compromises into its assumptions and algorithms. The NAS Letter Report identifies some of these compromises as shortfalls, and provides several recommendations that would increase the accuracy of the ERSP calculator, but would also significantly increase the complexity of using the calculator. BSEE carefully weighed these sometimes opposing factors when evaluating the NAS recommendations, and ultimately placed a premium on ensuring the calculator remained a VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:14 Aug 05, 2014 Jkt 232001 simple, useful planning tool that is best suited to the needs of plan holders and government reviewers. Where BSEE could not fully address the NAS’s concerns or suggested improvements with changes to the ERSP calculator itself, BSEE will work to address the issues where possible through other associated processes such as potential changes to the OSRP regulations. As such, BSEE provides the following comments with regard to the NAS recommendations: Using a ‘‘System of Response Options’’ Approach: The NAS recommends BSEE consider adopting a systems approach in the OSRP regulations that incorporates other response options in addition to mechanical oil recovery capabilities. BSEE fully agrees with this statement and will be conducting further studies to explore the development of additional planning tools and potential requirements for other response options such as dispersants and in situ burning. Using an ASTM Standard to Estimate Nameplate Recovery Rate and Recovery Efficiency of a Skimming System: The NAS recommends that the nameplate recovery rate input parameter for a skimmer be generated through the use of operational testing using a standard such as ASTM F2709–08. The NAS also recommends that the input value for skimmer Recovery Efficiency (RE) could be generated by using ASTM F2709–08 or a similar standard. While BSEE would agree with the suggestion to use ASTM standards whenever appropriate, it should be noted that the ASTM F2709–08 standard tests a skimming system’s performance in ideal conditions to determine a skimmer’s nameplate recovery rate, and does not account for the effects of sea state or other operating conditions that may reduce a system’s effectiveness and efficiency. ASTM F2709–08 does offer the promise as a low cost, easily replicated test for producing Nameplate Recovery Rate input values. As this testing method provides an assessment of optimal recovery rates measured under ideal skimming conditions, BSEE has been in discussions with members of the ASTM F20 Committee on how to best apply the existing standard or with regard to possible adjustments to the F2709–08. BSEE will continue to discuss and evaluate the practicality of using ASTM 2709–08, or of developing a new or revised standard that would complement the use of ERSP with ASTM. Developing More Guidance on Selecting Input Values and a More Detailed ERSP User Manual: The NAS recommends developing a more detailed PO 00000 Frm 00083 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 user manual that provides the logic behind the default values for certain parameters, and provides additional guidance for selecting and entering each of the user-defined inputs. BSEE agrees that additional information in a more detailed user manual would be beneficial to both response plan holders and government reviewers. BSEE will implement this recommendation to provide more background information on ERSP assumptions and any specified default values, and develop additional guidance on the selection of userdefined input variables in a more detailed user manual. Reducing Oil Thickness Values to Account for the Discontinuous Nature of Oil Slicks: The NAS recommended adjustment of the ERSP methodology to account for the discontinuous nature of oil slicks, specifically as it relates to a skimming system’s ability to continuously encounter oil for removal. Additionally, NAS reviewers observed that the representative oil thickness values chosen by GENWEST are higher than those gathered during field observations from actual spills or laboratory tests. The NAS concluded that the lack of a spatial element for the patchiness of oil slicks along with the current values chosen for oil thicknesses in the ERSP calculator would overstate oil encounter rates and recovery potential values, especially on Day 2 and Day 3 of a spill. The BSEE acknowledges the discontinuous nature of most oil spills as well as the fact that choosing a set of oil thickness values that adequately represent actual encounter rates over a wide range of scenarios is a very important but extremely challenging aspect of developing the ERSP calculator. The BSEE discussed this process at length with the GENWEST study team, and believes the values selected for oil thicknesses by the GENWEST team are valid planning values that adequately cover the very wide range of variables involved across a very broad set of industry response plans, and do not need to be further adjusted. The GENWEST study team ran over 400 modeling simulations varying for oil type, spill size, and ambient conditions such as wind and temperature in order to generate the distribution of expected thickness values. GENWEST informed BSEE that they factored in the discontinuous nature of oil slicks in their modeling when they selected the thickness values. GENWEST also commented that the thickness values were selected with a bias toward responding to a very large worst case discharge (WCD) spill volume, which E:\FR\FM\06AUN1.SGM 06AUN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 151 / Wednesday, August 6, 2014 / Notices would increase the thickness values over those measured during smaller controlled discharges and spills of opportunity. BSEE agrees with these statements and believes the thickness values selected by GENWEST are valid for addressing response planning to a WCD as required under the OPA. Incorporating Multiple Oil Thickness Scenarios Into the ERSP Calculator: The NAS recommends developing several planning scenario options that would allow plan holders to fine tune and customize their oil thickness values based on their oil type and facilityspecific parameters. This would allow a plan holder to tailor their ERSP calculations for their specific operational conditions (such as a sustained subsea loss of well control of medium crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico or a well with heavy crude in the Arctic). While these recommendations may improve the accuracy of individual plan holders’ specific ERSP calculations, BSEE believes the significant increase in complexity associated with using this approach far outweighs the minimal gains in accuracy that might be realized for an individual plan holder’s ERSP values. At this time, BSEE does not plan to incorporate multiple scenarios that would require the customized inputs for oil thickness values to be estimated or selected based upon a plan holder’s oil type, environmental operating conditions, and discharge scenarios. Assigning Uncertainty Values to ERSP Input Values: The NAS suggests adding the ability for users to input uncertainty values attached to user-selected inputs, and that additional guidance in the user manual should be developed to guide users on how to interpret and use the outputs that would result. The end result of using these uncertainty values would be to create a probability range of ERSP outcomes rather than a singularly defined number, which the NAS believed would provide additional clarity on the accuracy of the ERSP data generated. BSEE does not believe it is necessary for users to develop and input uncertainty data, as this may unnecessarily complicate the use of the calculator tool, and would not result in additional information that is necessary for developing and/or reviewing effective OSRPs. Additional Public Review: The NAS recommended the calculator methodology be exposed to an additional round of public review by a broad range of subject matter experts. Currently, BSEE relies on the NAS Letter Report itself as the primary means for subjecting the ERSP study to a rigorous ‘‘expert’’ assessment. However, VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:14 Aug 05, 2014 Jkt 232001 BSEE fully acknowledges the value of additional public review of critical documents such the EDRC Study. BSEE believes publishing this Federal Register notice that announces the results of both the EDRC Study and NAS Letter Report (as well as BSEE’s analysis and response to these documents), and providing an opportunity for public review and comment, successfully meets the intent of the NAS recommendation. Additionally, if any portion of the ERSP methodology were to be incorporated into a future Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), there would be another opportunity, in addition to this Federal Register notice, for public review and comment. Public Availibility of Comments: Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment including your personal identifying information may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the http:// www.regulations.gov index. Although all documents submitted will be listed in the index, some information may not be publicly available, e.g., confidential business information or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, may be publicly available only in hard copy. Otherwise, publicly available docket materials are available electronically in http:// www.regulations.gov. Dated: July 29, 2014. David M. Moore, Chief, Oil Spill Response Division. [FR Doc. 2014–18608 Filed 8–5–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–VH–P PO 00000 Frm 00084 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 45837 DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R4–ES–2014–N166; 41910–1112– 0000–F2] Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Receipt of Application for Incidental Take Permit; Availability of Proposed Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan; City of Deltona, Volusia County, FL and Adventist Health System/Sunbelt, Inc., Orange County, FL Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of receipt; request for comment/information. AGENCY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have received applications from the City of Deltona and Adventist Health System/Sunbelt, Inc. (applicants) for incidental take permits under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The City of Deltona has applied for modification of an ITP (ITP; modification #TE28377B–1), and Adventist Health System/Sunbelt, Inc. has applied for a 10-year incidental take permit (ITP; #TE41877B–0). We request public comment on the permit applications and accompanying proposed habitat conservation plans (HCPs), as well as on our preliminary determination that the plan qualifies as low-effect under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). To make this determination, we used our environmental action statement and low-effect screening form, which are also available for review. DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by September 5, 2014. ADDRESSES: If you wish to review the applications and HCPs, you may request documents by email, U.S. mail, or phone (see below). These documents are also available for public inspection by appointment during normal business hours at the office below. Send your comments or requests by any one of the following methods. Email: northflorida@fws.gov. Use ‘‘Attn: Permit number TE28377B–1’’ as your message subject line for the City of Deltona and ‘‘Attn: Permit number TE41877B–0’’ for Adventist Health System/Sunbelt, Inc. Fax: Field Supervisor, (904) 731– 3045, Attn.: Permit number TE28377B– 0 or TE41877B–0. U.S. mail: Field Supervisor, Jacksonville Ecological Services Field Office, Attn: Permit number TE28377B– 0 or TE41877B–0, U.S. Fish and SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\06AUN1.SGM 06AUN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 151 (Wednesday, August 6, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 45832-45837]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-18608]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement

[Docket ID: BSEE-2014-0006; 14XE8370SD ED1OS0000.JAE000 EEGG000000]


Notice of Availability for GENWEST EDRC Study and the National 
Academy of Sciences Letter Report (on the GENWEST Study); Comment 
Request

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is 
inviting you to provide comments on the GENWEST Systems, Inc., 
Effective Daily Recovery Capacity (EDRC) Study, National Academy of 
Sciences (NAS) Letter Report summarizing its peer review of the GENWEST 
Study, and comments provided by BSEE regarding each document.
    Background: EDRC is a calculation method established within BSEE's 
and the United States Coast Guard's (USCG) regulations to assign an oil 
recovery capability value to oil skimming

[[Page 45833]]

equipment. Although the EDRC methodology was finalized in the early 
1990's and has been an integral component of industry response planning 
and readiness for the past 20 years, the methodology came under heavy 
scrutiny in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This 
spurred an open debate and ongoing dialogue on how to best improve the 
EDRC planning standard. In late 2011, BSEE contracted with GENWEST 
Systems Inc. to evaluate the EDRC methodology and to develop 
recommendations for improving the planning standard for the mechanical 
recovery of oil on water. GENWEST's final report produced the concept 
of Estimated Recovery System Potential (ERSP), an oil encounter rate-
based calculator that evaluates mechanical recovery equipment as a 
complete system as opposed to focusing on an individual component such 
as a skimmer or an intake pump. Shortly thereafter, BSEE contracted the 
National Research Council's Ocean Studies Board to conduct an 
independent, third party peer review of the ERSP methodology. The 
resulting National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Peer Review Letter Report 
validated the ERSP standard as a sound methodology and a significant 
improvement over EDRC. The peer review also identified a number of 
areas for further consideration where ERSP might be improved. BSEE is 
continuing to develop and refine the ERSP methodology, with the intent 
of evaluating ERSP as a potential revision to BSEE's oil spill response 
plan (OSRP) regulations. This notice provides a high level summary of 
some of the key elements of both documents, as well as BSEE comments 
regarding each document. It also includes BSEE's response to 
recommendations in the NAS Letter Report. While the development of a 
new planning standard for calculating the mechanical recovery of spills 
continues to undergo additional research and refinement, this notice 
provides an early opportunity for public viewing and comment on the 
GENWEST EDRC Study and NAS Letter Report documents which are available 
in the regulations.gov docket ID: BSEE-2014-0006 and on the BSEE Web 
site at http://www.bsee.gov/Research-and-Training/Oil-Spill-Response-Research/Projects/Project-673/, as well as an opportunity to comment on 
the BSEE's responses to the findings and recommendations contained in 
each document.

DATES: You must submit comments by October 6, 2014. The BSEE may not 
fully consider comments received after this date. While BSEE does not 
intend to publish another notice in the Federal Register solely to 
respond to comments submitted to this specific request, all comments 
received will be posted in the docket and considered as inputs into the 
ongoing analyses regarding the effort to improve the existing EDRC 
planning standard, and will become part of the official agency record 
for this project. As such, the contents of any comments received may be 
used and/or cited, as appropriate, in the preambles of future BSEE 
rulemaking documents that would implement an updated mechanical oil 
recovery planning standard as part of BSEE's OSRP regulations.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments and additional materials by any of 
the following methods.
     Electronically: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. In the 
Search for box, enter BSEE-2014-0006, then click search. Follow the 
instructions to submit public comments and view supporting and related 
materials available for this notice.
     Email: oilspillresponsedivision@bsee.gov or mail or hand-
carry comments to the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Safety and 
Environmental Enforcement, Oil Spill Response Division, 381 Elden 
Street, HE 3327, Herndon, Virginia 20170, Attention: Mr. John Caplis. 
Please reference GENWEST EDRC Study and the National Academy of 
Sciences Letter Report in your comments and include your name and 
return address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. John Caplis, Oil Spill Response 
Division, 703-787-1364, john.caplis@bsee.gov to request additional 
information about this notice.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 
    The Current EDRC Planning Standard: The current EDRC planning 
standard was developed as part of a negotiated rulemaking process 
involving Federal and state government, industry, and non-governmental 
organizations following the passage of the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 
1990 (Pub. L. 10, 1-380, Aug 18, 1990, as amended). This regulatory 
methodology was intended to quantify the amount of oil spill response 
equipment (i.e., skimmers) needed by plan holders for an effective 
response to their worst-case discharge (WCD) spill scenario. The 
formula for EDRC has not changed since its adoption in 1992:

EDRC = T x 24 hours x E

    In this formula, ``T'' is a skimmer's throughput (or recovery) rate 
in ``barrels per hour'' and ``E'' is an efficiency factor that was set 
at 20 percent (or 0.2).
    In practice, the method has been applied as the hourly throughput 
rate (as determined by the manufacturer's assigned nameplate recovery 
rate) multiplied by 24 hours and then discounted by a 20 percent 
efficiency factor. The result is an estimate of the number of barrels 
(bbls) of oil that can be recovered in any daily operational period. If 
a skimmer requires a pump that determines the throughput of fluids, the 
pump capacity becomes the determining factor in assigning an EDRC value 
to a piece of skimming equipment.
    The 20 percent efficiency (de-rating) factor was determined through 
consensus by an Oil Spill Response Plan Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory 
Committee. The de-rating factor accounts for a mix of environmental and 
operational considerations (such as temperature, sea state, oil 
viscosity, hours of daylight, the presence of debris, and the ability 
to separate oil and water) that would limit or reduce the effectiveness 
of a skimmer's capability to recover oil over a 24-hour operational 
period. There are other critical influences on mechanical recovery that 
were not incorporated into the EDRC calculation. Some of the most 
important factors omitted include oil encounter rate (i.e., the rate at 
which a skimmer is able to access spilled oil), onboard storage 
capacity, and human factors (proficiency in skimmer operation).
    Observations and Criticisms of EDRC During the Deepwater Horizon 
Oil Spill: The Deepwater Horizon oil spill dramatically highlighted how 
mechanical recovery systems can be significantly limited by low 
encounter rates. Emanating from a well nearly a mile below the ocean 
surface, the spilled oil surfaced over a wide geographical area and had 
already thinned much in terms of oil thickness. The oil slick that was 
available for recovery was widely discontinuous, had a large, expanding 
areal footprint, and a rapidly diminishing surface thickness. An 
unprecedented quantity of skimmers, boom, and other types of spill 
response equipment were cascaded in from across the United States, as 
well as from other nations, resulting in a massive amount of offshore 
mechanical recovery capability that was used during the response. 
Despite this effort, the aforementioned factors worked against the 
mechanical recovery task forces operating offshore--reducing their 
overall effectiveness in encountering, containing and recovering the 
oil. As a result, significant amounts of shoreline oiling occurred 
across the Gulf of Mexico. Both government and industry-sponsored 
lessons learned reports identified the performance and effectiveness of 
skimming systems as a

[[Page 45834]]

focal point in their observations and findings.
    The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and 
Offshore Drilling's Final Report, BP Deepwater Horizon Incident 
Specific Preparedness Review (ISPR) Final Report, and Joint Industry 
Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Task Force (JITF) Second Progress 
Report all highlight the limitations of the EDRC methodology, and 
recommend improvement of the mechanical recovery planning standard. The 
National Commission report states that EDRC should be revised to 
encourage the development of more efficient systems. The BP Deepwater 
Horizon ISPR Report points out that the total EDRC for equipment used 
on-scene during the spill far exceeded BP's mandated OSRP requirements. 
However, this extensive armada of mechanical recovery equipment did not 
recover oil quantities that corresponded to their aggregated EDRC 
values. The ISPR Report recommends that the regulations be revised to 
include a reliable, dynamic efficiency measure that accurately reflects 
the limitations of encountering significant volumes of oil on the 
water, and also should encourage more research and development to 
improve the effectiveness of skimmer systems. The JITF Second Progress 
Report states that government and industry must recognize the 
limitations of existing mechanical recovery equipment, and pursue 
incentives to improve boom and skimmer designs, especially in the 
offshore environment. Furthermore, the JITF also recommends that the 
government revisit the EDRC regulations in order to determine if 
improvements to the planning standard are necessary.
    The EDRC Study: Through a competitive procurement, BSEE initiated a 
third party, independent research contract to:
    (1) Evaluate existing EDRC methodologies,
    (2) examine de-rating in order to identify the key variables that 
impact skimming system recovery rates,
    (3) develop recommendations for an improved mechanical recovery 
planning standard, and
    (4) create a user-friendly, computer-based planning tool based on 
those recommendations.
    GENWEST Systems, Inc., a private sector information management and 
environmental services consulting firm, was awarded the research 
contract in September 2011 and completed its final project report in 
December 2012.
    The capstone of the GENWEST report is a new methodology and 
computer-based planning tool for estimating mechanical oil recovery 
capability called the ERSP calculator. Based on algorithms similar to 
those within the GENWEST developed Response Options Calculator, the 
ERSP calculator is an oil encounter-rate based planning tool that 
measures the performance of an entire mechanical recovery skimming 
system.
    The ERSP calculator addresses the effect of encounter rate on a 
skimmer through three key variables: The swath width of the skimming 
system configuration, the speed of advance of the skimming system 
relative to the motion of the oil slick, and the thickness of the oil 
being collected. The calculator uses three different nominal oil 
thicknesses that decrease with time over a 3-day period in order to 
model the reduced amounts of oil available to a skimming system due to 
the effects of spreading. The selection of the nominal oil thickness 
values (0.1 inch for Day 1, 0.05 inch for Day 2, and 0.025 inch for Day 
3) are based on the results of over 400 computer simulations of oil 
spreading where temperature, wind, discharge volume, and oil type were 
varied in different combinations. The three resulting thicknesses that 
were selected are representational values that are reasonably 
acceptable across a wide range of scenarios. The calculator enables the 
plan holder to input customized values for both the swath width and the 
speed of advance for a skimming system, which are then used to estimate 
areal coverage for a recovery system during an operational period. The 
calculator then applies the nominal oil thicknesses to the areal 
coverage achieved in order to estimate the oil encountered.
    The next steps in the ERSP methodology apply the ``recovery'' 
parameters of the skimming system to the amount of the oil encountered. 
These parameters include an estimate of the oil recovered compared to 
the total volume of the fluids recovered (i.e., the oil/water recovery 
ratio otherwise referred to as the system's Recovery Efficiency), an 
estimate of the oil removed compared to the oil encountered (i.e., the 
effectiveness of the containment elements of the skimming system as 
opposed to entrainment of the oil, referred to as Throughput 
Efficiency), the skimmer nameplate recovery rate, the amount of onboard 
fluid storage, decanting or oil/water separation abilities, intake and 
offload pump rates, and offloading set up and transit times. The 
application of the ``encounter rate'' and ``recovery'' system 
variables, when applied to the available oil thicknesses for each 
operational period, create estimates of the system's effective recovery 
potentials for Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 of a spill. If a skimming 
system's configuration remains fixed over time, then the recovery 
potential of the system will decrease from day to day as the oil 
available for skimming also decreases; however, a skimming system's 
configuration can often be adjusted during subsequent operational 
periods to maintain or minimize the loss of recovery potential.
    The National Academy of Sciences Letter Report: The National 
Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of 
scholars dedicated to the furtherance and use of science and technology 
for the general welfare. Under the charter granted to it by Congress, 
the Academy has a mandate to advise the Federal government on 
scientific and technical matters. The National Research Council was 
organized by the NAS as the principal operating agency for the 
Academies in providing services to government, the public, and the 
scientific communities. In the spring of 2013, BSEE contracted the 
National Research Council's Ocean Studies Board to conduct an objective 
technical evaluation of the GENWEST EDRC Report and the ERSP 
methodology. The Ocean Studies Board assembled an ad hoc study 
committee of five subject matter experts that completed and delivered 
their Peer Review Letter Report in November of 2013.
    The Letter Report concluded that the ERSP methodology was sound and 
a substantial improvement over the current EDRC methodology. While the 
committee cited many improvements, they felt that the greatest strength 
of the new ERSP methodology was its evaluation of the entire skimming 
system as a whole as opposed to any single part of it.
    The committee's most significant concerns regarding the ERSP's 
methodology focused on the nominal oil thicknesses selected by the 
GENWEST team. These thicknesses were meant to be representative of the 
``thickest'' oil available during each operational period. The ERSP 
methodology assumes that a skimming system will be able to operate in 
oil at these nominal thickness values for the entire time it is 
skimming during the operational periods on the first three days. The 
committee, however, felt that the real distribution of thick oil will 
be discontinuous, or patchy, and that the ERSP model should address 
this factor in its calculations. The Letter Report also goes on to 
suggest that some field observations for slick thicknesses are 
generally less than those used by the ERSP calculator. The study

[[Page 45835]]

committee concluded that the GENWEST thicknesses are likely to 
overestimate actual encounter rates and would provide an overly 
optimistic assessment of a skimming system's actual recovery potential. 
The committee recommended applying a ``patchiness de-rating factor'' to 
the encounter rate calculation, and also suggested adding the ability 
to enter different oil thickness values into the calculator. Encounter 
rates would then be adjusted for the discontinuous nature of the thick 
oil patches, and more customized thicknesses could be entered into the 
calculator based on the circumstances of the release scenario and the 
particular properties of the plan holder's oil type.
    The committee also recommended that regulators work with the 
GENWEST team to develop a more detailed user manual that would further 
explain the ERSP calculator assumptions, provide additional guidance to 
users on the selection of certain input values, and would provide 
default values for some of the more uncertain or unknown parameters. 
The committee also recommended the use of the American Society for 
Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard F2709-08, as the means to 
determine the Nameplate Recovery Rate value in the ERSP calculator. 
Finally, the committee recommended a broader approach of considering 
all potential response options in future rulemakings.
    BSEE Comments Regarding the GENWEST Study: BSEE believes the 
GENWEST EDRC study provides a solid foundational work for building an 
improved mechanical recovery planning standard. The ERSP methodology 
has necessarily sacrificed the increased accuracy of a more complex and 
customizable model in order to create a simple, accessible planning 
tool that is applicable across a wide range of planning scenarios. In 
striking this important balance, the ERSP methodology successfully 
addresses many of the issues identified concerning EDRC, and also 
incorporates some key compromises into its assumptions and algorithms 
that BSEE will have to examine carefully. BSEE submits the following 
statements for public review and comment regarding its assessment of 
the ERSP calculator and the GENWEST EDRC Study:
    ERSP Creates Incentives for More Effective Skimming Systems: The 
ERSP methodology is a practical approach to evaluating mechanical oil 
recovery systems that includes incentives for improving system 
performance. The ERSP calculator rewards recovery systems that maximize 
encounter rate and minimize skimming downtime during offloading 
periods. The calculator provides plan holders and Oil Spill Removal 
Organizations (OSROs) with a very useful tool for assessing and 
comparing different configurations for almost any type of skimming 
system. Plan holders can input different values into the calculator for 
many of the recovery system's variables, such as swath width, speed, 
decanting, onboard storage, and pump rates, in order to explore the 
resultant effects on encounter rate and recovery potential. Plan 
holders and OSROs will be able to identify the parameters that will 
best increase a system's recovery potential, and should be able to use 
this information to guide their design, investment, and operational 
deployment decisions.
    The calculator's algorithms will encourage plan holders and OSROs 
to acquire and configure skimming systems with higher areal coverage 
rates (through increased swath widths or increased speeds of advance 
relative to the motion of the oil), higher nameplate capacities and 
recovery efficiencies, and more effective collection and containment 
arrangements that limit the entrainment of oil. The calculator will 
also create incentives for developing skimming systems that have 
increased onboard storage, faster oil transfer rates, and effective 
decanting capabilities.
    ERSP Challenges in the Nearshore and Inshore Operating 
Environments: ERSP algorithms and operating incentives are well suited 
for offshore skimming operations, but are less so for the nearshore and 
inland operating environments. Decanting in the offshore environment 
provides a tremendous advantage that maximizes the use of onboard 
storage and reduces offload times. However, decanting is not realistic 
for many nearshore and inshore scenarios. In more confined, shallow 
areas, skimming systems with large swath widths and large onboard or 
tethered storage solutions are likely to be ineffective. Advancing 
skimmers used in nearshore areas will still require high recovery 
efficiencies; however, shallow drafts and maneuverability now become 
more important than large swath widths and bulky onboard storage 
arrangements. As a result, many nearshore skimming systems are likely 
to have ERSP potential values significantly below their EDRC ratings, 
despite being optimally configured for their operating environments. 
Mechanical recovery in inshore areas is even more disassociated with 
many of the incentives of the ERSP calculator, as mechanical recovery 
in these settings often relies on deflection and collection booming and 
stationary skimming arrangements.
    While ERSP may still be a useful measure of potential in the 
nearshore area, limits may be necessary on the use of certain ERSP 
variables, such as swath width and decanting. It may also be necessary 
to consider a mixture of different equipment rating schemes and 
requirements for mechanical recovery in these operating environments. 
The rating of skimming systems and the reviews of OSRPs in these 
operating areas may require a more scenario-based approach than 
regulators have used in the past.
    ERSP Emphasizes a Rapid Response Capability: As the calculator 
applies substantially decreasing oil thicknesses over the first 3 days 
of a spill, the ERSP methodology creates a powerful incentive for 
skimming systems to arrive onsite as quickly as possible. The 
calculator clearly demonstrates that plan holders and responders will 
reach a point of diminishing returns for bringing in additional 
mechanical recovery equipment as time progresses and oil becomes less 
available for skimming. While this circumstance is somewhat mitigated 
during a sustained release such as a well blowout (where there may be 
fresh, thick, concentrated oil available each day), the fact remains 
that mechanical recovery equipment performs at its highest recovery 
potential in the earliest hours of a spill when encounter rates can be 
maximized.
    ERSP Does not Address Staging, Mobilization, or Transit Times: 
While the ERSP methodology emphasizes a rapid response, it does not 
factor into its calculations the time it takes to mobilize and deliver 
a mechanical recovery system to the site of a spill. GENWEST, at the 
direction of BSEE, used a fixed operational period of 12 hours for the 
EDRC Study, and did not incorporate the effects of equipment 
mobilization and delivery times on recovery potentials. The ERSP 
calculator does, however, have an input variable for each day's 
``operating period'', which could be reduced to account for these 
factors related to response time.
    The OSROs and plan holders could adjust the operating period 
accordingly if BSEE provides guidance on how to account for each 
mobilization factor. The BSEE currently does not factor response times 
into its regulations and currently does not require adjustments to EDRC 
values based on mobilization times. Additional guidance and regulations 
may be needed in order to adequately account for mobilization times 
when inputting the operational period into the ERSP calculator.

[[Page 45836]]

    ERSP Calculations Assumes the Use of Best Practices and Best 
Commercially Available Technology: In the selection of representative 
oil thicknesses for each operational period, the ERSP calculator 
assumes that operators will be using the best technologies commercially 
available, such as remote sensing tools, as well as operational best 
practices, in their skimming activities. This is especially important 
for ensuring operator proficiency, and for identifying, tracking, and 
keeping recovery systems in thick oil continuously during skimming 
operations. If operators do not employ such technology and best 
practices, then the ERSP calculator is likely to provide an overstated 
recovery potential for a system. The calculator does not include any 
built in incentives for the use of these critical best practices and 
technologies. Creating these incentives or requirements may therefore 
have to be addressed through regulatory requirements, industry 
standards, and recommended practices.
    BSEE Comments Regarding the NAS Letter Report: The BSEE agrees with 
the NAS Letter Report findings that the new approach for evaluating 
mechanical recovery equipment, Estimated Recovery System Potential 
(ERSP), is basically sound and an improvement over methods currently 
employed by BSEE and USCG oil spill response planning regulations. The 
BSEE also acknowledges each of the insightful recommendations offered 
for possible improvement in the NAS Peer Review Letter Report, and has 
carefully considered their potential for improving the existing EDRC 
and proposed ERSP methodologies. As stated earlier in this document, 
BSEE believes that the ERSP methodology has necessarily sacrificed a 
degree of accuracy associated with a more complex and customizable 
model in order to create a simple, accessible planning tool that is 
applicable across a wide range of planning scenarios. In striking this 
important balance, the ERSP methodology successfully addresses many of 
the issues concerning EDRC, but also incorporates some key compromises 
into its assumptions and algorithms. The NAS Letter Report identifies 
some of these compromises as shortfalls, and provides several 
recommendations that would increase the accuracy of the ERSP 
calculator, but would also significantly increase the complexity of 
using the calculator. BSEE carefully weighed these sometimes opposing 
factors when evaluating the NAS recommendations, and ultimately placed 
a premium on ensuring the calculator remained a simple, useful planning 
tool that is best suited to the needs of plan holders and government 
reviewers. Where BSEE could not fully address the NAS's concerns or 
suggested improvements with changes to the ERSP calculator itself, BSEE 
will work to address the issues where possible through other associated 
processes such as potential changes to the OSRP regulations. As such, 
BSEE provides the following comments with regard to the NAS 
recommendations:
    Using a ``System of Response Options'' Approach: The NAS recommends 
BSEE consider adopting a systems approach in the OSRP regulations that 
incorporates other response options in addition to mechanical oil 
recovery capabilities. BSEE fully agrees with this statement and will 
be conducting further studies to explore the development of additional 
planning tools and potential requirements for other response options 
such as dispersants and in situ burning.
    Using an ASTM Standard to Estimate Nameplate Recovery Rate and 
Recovery Efficiency of a Skimming System: The NAS recommends that the 
nameplate recovery rate input parameter for a skimmer be generated 
through the use of operational testing using a standard such as ASTM 
F2709-08. The NAS also recommends that the input value for skimmer 
Recovery Efficiency (RE) could be generated by using ASTM F2709-08 or a 
similar standard. While BSEE would agree with the suggestion to use 
ASTM standards whenever appropriate, it should be noted that the ASTM 
F2709-08 standard tests a skimming system's performance in ideal 
conditions to determine a skimmer's nameplate recovery rate, and does 
not account for the effects of sea state or other operating conditions 
that may reduce a system's effectiveness and efficiency. ASTM F2709-08 
does offer the promise as a low cost, easily replicated test for 
producing Nameplate Recovery Rate input values. As this testing method 
provides an assessment of optimal recovery rates measured under ideal 
skimming conditions, BSEE has been in discussions with members of the 
ASTM F20 Committee on how to best apply the existing standard or with 
regard to possible adjustments to the F2709-08. BSEE will continue to 
discuss and evaluate the practicality of using ASTM 2709-08, or of 
developing a new or revised standard that would complement the use of 
ERSP with ASTM.
    Developing More Guidance on Selecting Input Values and a More 
Detailed ERSP User Manual: The NAS recommends developing a more 
detailed user manual that provides the logic behind the default values 
for certain parameters, and provides additional guidance for selecting 
and entering each of the user-defined inputs. BSEE agrees that 
additional information in a more detailed user manual would be 
beneficial to both response plan holders and government reviewers. BSEE 
will implement this recommendation to provide more background 
information on ERSP assumptions and any specified default values, and 
develop additional guidance on the selection of user-defined input 
variables in a more detailed user manual.
    Reducing Oil Thickness Values to Account for the Discontinuous 
Nature of Oil Slicks: The NAS recommended adjustment of the ERSP 
methodology to account for the discontinuous nature of oil slicks, 
specifically as it relates to a skimming system's ability to 
continuously encounter oil for removal. Additionally, NAS reviewers 
observed that the representative oil thickness values chosen by GENWEST 
are higher than those gathered during field observations from actual 
spills or laboratory tests. The NAS concluded that the lack of a 
spatial element for the patchiness of oil slicks along with the current 
values chosen for oil thicknesses in the ERSP calculator would 
overstate oil encounter rates and recovery potential values, especially 
on Day 2 and Day 3 of a spill. The BSEE acknowledges the discontinuous 
nature of most oil spills as well as the fact that choosing a set of 
oil thickness values that adequately represent actual encounter rates 
over a wide range of scenarios is a very important but extremely 
challenging aspect of developing the ERSP calculator. The BSEE 
discussed this process at length with the GENWEST study team, and 
believes the values selected for oil thicknesses by the GENWEST team 
are valid planning values that adequately cover the very wide range of 
variables involved across a very broad set of industry response plans, 
and do not need to be further adjusted. The GENWEST study team ran over 
400 modeling simulations varying for oil type, spill size, and ambient 
conditions such as wind and temperature in order to generate the 
distribution of expected thickness values. GENWEST informed BSEE that 
they factored in the discontinuous nature of oil slicks in their 
modeling when they selected the thickness values. GENWEST also 
commented that the thickness values were selected with a bias toward 
responding to a very large worst case discharge (WCD) spill volume, 
which

[[Page 45837]]

would increase the thickness values over those measured during smaller 
controlled discharges and spills of opportunity. BSEE agrees with these 
statements and believes the thickness values selected by GENWEST are 
valid for addressing response planning to a WCD as required under the 
OPA.
    Incorporating Multiple Oil Thickness Scenarios Into the ERSP 
Calculator: The NAS recommends developing several planning scenario 
options that would allow plan holders to fine tune and customize their 
oil thickness values based on their oil type and facility-specific 
parameters. This would allow a plan holder to tailor their ERSP 
calculations for their specific operational conditions (such as a 
sustained subsea loss of well control of medium crude oil in the Gulf 
of Mexico or a well with heavy crude in the Arctic). While these 
recommendations may improve the accuracy of individual plan holders' 
specific ERSP calculations, BSEE believes the significant increase in 
complexity associated with using this approach far outweighs the 
minimal gains in accuracy that might be realized for an individual plan 
holder's ERSP values. At this time, BSEE does not plan to incorporate 
multiple scenarios that would require the customized inputs for oil 
thickness values to be estimated or selected based upon a plan holder's 
oil type, environmental operating conditions, and discharge scenarios.
    Assigning Uncertainty Values to ERSP Input Values: The NAS suggests 
adding the ability for users to input uncertainty values attached to 
user-selected inputs, and that additional guidance in the user manual 
should be developed to guide users on how to interpret and use the 
outputs that would result. The end result of using these uncertainty 
values would be to create a probability range of ERSP outcomes rather 
than a singularly defined number, which the NAS believed would provide 
additional clarity on the accuracy of the ERSP data generated. BSEE 
does not believe it is necessary for users to develop and input 
uncertainty data, as this may unnecessarily complicate the use of the 
calculator tool, and would not result in additional information that is 
necessary for developing and/or reviewing effective OSRPs.
    Additional Public Review: The NAS recommended the calculator 
methodology be exposed to an additional round of public review by a 
broad range of subject matter experts. Currently, BSEE relies on the 
NAS Letter Report itself as the primary means for subjecting the ERSP 
study to a rigorous ``expert'' assessment. However, BSEE fully 
acknowledges the value of additional public review of critical 
documents such the EDRC Study. BSEE believes publishing this Federal 
Register notice that announces the results of both the EDRC Study and 
NAS Letter Report (as well as BSEE's analysis and response to these 
documents), and providing an opportunity for public review and comment, 
successfully meets the intent of the NAS recommendation. Additionally, 
if any portion of the ERSP methodology were to be incorporated into a 
future Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), there would be another 
opportunity, in addition to this Federal Register notice, for public 
review and comment.
    Public Availibility of Comments: Before including your address, 
phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information 
in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment including 
your personal identifying information may be made publicly available at 
any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your 
personal identifying information from public review, we cannot 
guarantee that we will be able to do so.
    Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index. Although all documents submitted will be 
listed in the index, some information may not be publicly available, 
e.g., confidential business information or other information whose 
disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as 
copyrighted material, may be publicly available only in hard copy. 
Otherwise, publicly available docket materials are available 
electronically in http://www.regulations.gov.

     Dated: July 29, 2014.
 David M. Moore,
Chief, Oil Spill Response Division.
[FR Doc. 2014-18608 Filed 8-5-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-VH-P