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U.S. DOES NOT ALLOW OPEN WATER OIL SPILLS FOR PRACTICE

The statement

Canada "does spills into their water to practice in the event that this would happen. That is not allowed in the United States."

Mary Landrieu, June 20 on Meet The Press

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The ruling: MOSTLY TRUE

On Meet the Press, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, commented on the observation that the gulf oil spill is so large, authorities have no experience dealing with such a calamity.

"We're all on a learning curve,'' Landrieu said. "I learned this week that Canada ... for instance, does spills into their water to practice in the event that this would happen. That is not allowed in the United States. Maybe we should think about that." She added that "this is like going through something where we've never had a fire drill."

We were curious about whether Canada does such practice sessions in open water and the United States forbids this.

In a recent congressional hearing, Dr. Nancy Kinner, the co-director of the Coastal Response Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, saidCanada and Norway have controlled oil spills to test new methods

"The United States is the only country that does oil spill R&D that has no opportunity to actually have on-water controlled spills to test technology," Kinner told members of Congress.

The Minerals Management Service said "the U.S. prohibits training with real oil in the open ocean or conducting testing of equipment, technologies or methodologies with real oil in the open ocean. In North America testing, training and research using real oil is conducted in test tanks and in laboratories."

The Environmental Protection Agency says it is technically possible to get a permit to spill oil in open water, but one has not been granted for at least 20 years.The main training capability inside the U.S. is the National Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility, also known as Ohmsett. Real oil is used inside the training facility, but that is an enclosed system. That allows researchers to control for all variables and test in a variety of conditions. However, many experts, including Kinner, believes there is value to testing in the real world.

Landrieu is right that Canada practices in open water for oil spills and such testing is de facto prohibited here because the EPA has not issued a permit in two decades. Still, the application process exists. It remains legally possible to ask for permission. So we rate this claim Mostly True.

This ruling has been edited for print. For more, go to PolitiFact.com.

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