In response to requests from the Laborer's International Union of North America, the Alaska State Health Department, and the United States Coast Guard an evaluation was undertaken of health hazards present during the cleanup of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound. Three field trips were made to the area. The cleanup involved thousands of workers dispersed over hundreds of square miles. After the first two visits, the following issues were targeted for additional evaluation: worker training; adequacy, availability, use and decontamination of personal protective equipment; exposure assessment including a review of prior exposure assessment data, analysis of bulk samples, inhalation exposures, skin exposures, and noise exposures; decontamination procedures; reports of illnesses; and reports of injuries. The authors conclude that at the time of the evaluation, inhalation exposure to volatile components of weathered crude oil was insignificant. Decontamination procedures and the wearing of personal protective equipment were not always effectively and consistently implemented at all sites. The authors recommend measures for future operations of this type, including testing of chemical protective clothing, emergency response plans with provisions for assessment of exposures to volatile organics at the very early stages of cleanup, minimizing exposures to diesel fumes, and that additional general safety recommendations and a proposed surveillance system for tracking injuries be enforced.
NIOSH-Author; NIOSH-Health-Hazard-Evaluation; NIOSH-Technical-Assistance-Report; HETA-89-200-2111; HETA-89-273-2111; Hazards-Unconfirmed; Region-10; Environmental-contamination; Oil-industry; Petroleum-industry; Aromatic-hydrocarbons; Occupational-exposure; Personal-protective-equipment;
Author Keywords: petroleum and petroleum products; crude oil; oil; weathered crude oil; mousse; oil spill; benzene; limonene; luminoscope; Valdez; PNA; noise