Coordination of Oil Spill Research Activities Between the Multi-Partner Research initiative (MPRI) of Canada and US Research Efforts

FY 2024 | 2 – Respond | 24-10-06

Coordination of Oil Spill Research Activities Between the Multi-Partner Research initiative (MPRI) of Canada and US Research Efforts

Kenneth Lee, Kenneth Lee Research Inc
Contract Term: 5/20/24-11/20/24
Award: $20,000

Under Canadas Oceans Protection Plan (OPP), Phase-2 of the Multi-Partner Research Initiative (MPRI) under the management of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is currently supporting $30.3M of research to advance oil spill science over 5 years that draws upon the expertise and experience of oil spill experts to increase knowledge about the potential impacts of spills on organisms, develop new technologies for clean-up, and support science based decisions that minimize damage and enhance habit recover in coastal, marine, and freshwater environments.

Objectives of the MPRI Program

  • Increase knowledge about the environmental impacts of oil spills.
  • Support technology and technique development for oil spill clean-up.
  • Knowledge to support science-based decision making.
  • Fostering Canadas involvement in international networks of oil spill response experts.
  • Participation and training of the next generation of oil spill scientists and responders.
  • Knowledge exchange and mobilization.
  • Meaningful Indigenous participation in oil spill research.
  • Engage decision-makers to ensure practical applicability of research.

As of April 2024, the program is leveraging the research of more than 153 researchers from 65 research institutions in 6 countries that involves participants from representatives from government, industry, academia, regulatory agencies, response organizations, and indigenous/coastal communities and a pending "open call" to distribute and additional $11.7M from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Funding under MPRI is supporting the activities of a research network to:

  • Increase knowledge about the impacts of oil spills on organisms.
  • Develop new technologies and techniques for clean-up.
  • Support science-based decisions that will minimize impacts of the environment and enhance habitat recovery.
  • Provide opportunities for participation and training of the next generation of oil spill scientists and responders (e.g., students and young professionals)
  • Involve oil spill responders and decision makers to ensure practical applicability of research.
  • Include activities for program synthesis and information transfer
  • Involve active indigenous participation, where applicable.

MPRI's Steering Committe approved funding for following six priority areas for research:

  • Fate, Behavior, and Transport of Oil in the Environment
  • Alternative Response Measures
  • Oil Detection and Monitoring
  • Biological Effects of Oil
  • Physical Recovery of Oil
  • Response Planning and Decision-making

based on recommendations from:

  • The Royal Society of Canada Report on oil spill research
  • Transport Canada's review on Canada's Ship-Source Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Regime
  • The USA's Interagency Coordinating Committee on Oil Pollution Research (ICCOPR) 2022-2027 R&D plan
  • Feedback following MPRI's 2022 International Oil Spill Science Conference (IOSSC 2022)
  • National Academy of Science's recent Oil in the Sea IV report

A description of the research projects funded under the Phase-2 of MPRI can be assessed online:

https//natural-resources.canada.ca/energy-offices-and-labs/canmetenergy/canmetenergy-devon/multi-partner-research-initiative/projects/25441

MPRI under OPP and the Oil Spill Recovery Institue (OSRI) of Alaska share common objectives to understand their research programs to "identify and develop the best available techniques, equipment, and materials for dealing with oil spills," and to, "determine, document, asses, and understand the effects of oil spills on natural resources." Furthermore, emphasis is given by both parties to study related to oil spills in the Arctic and sub-Arctic as a result of regional municipal/industrial growth and climate change extending the "open water" season for marine traffic.

Dr. Kenneth Lee is the Chair of MPRI's Steering, Advisory and Technical Advisory Committees. Under his proposal he will:

  1. Liaise with oil spill research program managers involved with MPRI, OSRI and other national and international programs within Canada, USA, Norway, France, UK, etc., to foster the interaction of scientists and the leverage of financial resources.
  2. promote communication between researchers with representatives from government regulators, accredited oil spill response agencies, the private sector and NGO's to ensure research is aligned with operational needs.
  3. support the development of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in the field by the coordination of workshops/conferences.
  4. advance the communication of science deliverables to local communities and groups.

These proposed activities are directly aligned with OSRI's stated object to search for and develop partnerships that allow for shared funding, facilities, knowledge, and experience. OSRI has acknowledged that oil spills are a global concern, and there is too much expensive work that needs to be done for one organization to tackle on its own.

To address this challenge, Dr. Kenneth Lee (director, Kenneth Lee Research Inc) will identify commonalities in the research programs funded by MPRI, OSRI and others with an aim to build interactions between the researchers and their clients and stakeholders. This will be accomplished by coordination of joint workshops/conferences (e.g., include OSRL as a potential for the proposed MPRI/ITAC 2026 International Oil Spill Science Conference) and Technical Advisory Group meetings for specific identified themes (e.g., development of protocols for mesocosm studies, development and testing of improved oil spill recovery technologies, development and validation of sensors and remotely operational surface vessels for monitoring oil spill response operations, etc.).