Protecting Sensitive Coastal Areas with Exclusion Booms during Oil Spill Events

Anthony Grubesic, Ran Wei, Jake Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Oil spills at sea remain a serious threat to coastal settlements and sensitive ecosystems. Although the impacts of spills are contingent upon a variety of environmental factors and the chemical composition of the oil itself, spill effects can be long lasting in the pelagic zone with broad impacts on sensitive bacterial, microbial, plant, and animal communities. Efforts to contain, deflect, protect, and mitigate the effects of oil are increasingly important, given the massive social, economic, and environmental fallout connected to large spills. The purpose of this paper is to provide geographic perspective for protecting coastal areas with exclusion booms during oil spill events. Specifically, we introduce a generalized, extendable, spatial optimization model that simultaneously minimizes spill effects on vulnerable shorelines and the total costs associated with dispatching booms. The multiobjective model is solved with a weighting method to produce a Pareto optimal curve that reveals how the costs and protection operations change under different priorities. A simulated tanker spill near Mobile Bay, AL, USA, is used as an illustrative example.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-494
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Modeling and Assessment
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Gulf of Mexico
  • Oil spill response
  • Optimization
  • Planning
  • Spatial analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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