Oil Spill Response Planning in SIPE-2


SRI International is developing an oil spill response configuration system to help U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) planners determine the appropriate response equipment and personnel for major spills. The overall objective is to develop an operational prototype for a spill response system that could be used by on-scene coordinators for major spills anywhere on the U.S. coastline, and that could be used in training exercises. In this domain, SIPE-2 and other software tools have been applied to support plan development and evaluation, spill trajectory modeling, and map display of planning results. The resulting application has been demonstrated to various USCG personnel at the regional and national levels.


SRI's approach has been to design a tool using SIPE-2 to plan the deployment and employment of each major piece of equipment during a simulated spill. Spill simulations are developed either from historic spill records or from a trajectory projection model of oil spreading on the sea. The USCG has done extensive studies of the risk of oil spills along the U.S. coast; from these studies a representative set of spill scenarios can be selected for equipment configuration planning. The planning methodology in SIPE-2 breaks the top-level problem into a set of subgoals. Each subgoal can be further broken down into lower-level subgoals that, at the lowest level, are broken down into equipment deployment and employment procedures. The system will keep track of the constraints of time precedence, concurrent resource use, and deployment time, in order to determine the feasible choices at each planning point, based on the situation, equipment capabilities, and prior actions. As planning proceeds, the user can interactively direct the planner and a simulator will determine the resulting disposition of the oil, and its eventual effects and damage. The best equipment configurations will be determined by comparison of the effectiveness of alternative plans, starting with varying assumptions about the equipment level and location.


An August 1994 demonstration showed how the system would help USCG planners develop oil spill response plans, determine the appropriate equipment and personnel required to respond to the spill, and identify deficiencies in the equipment inventory by analyzing the tradeoff between the cost of equipment and environmental damage. It also described how the system could be configured to provide support at the national and regional levels.

The following image shows an oil-spill--response plan at a high level of abstraction. The green hexagons are goals still to be solved and the blue capsules are actions. After expansion to the lowest level, this plan may contain hundreds of actions.

For more detail on this application, click here.


This application was funded by the United States Coast Guard and originally done by a team lead by Dr. Roberto Desimone. The final project leader was Dr. John Mark Agosta.

David E. Wilkins
Last modified: Mon Oct 23 14:04:12 2000