Ohmsett is the National Oil Spill Response Test Facility, located in Leonardo, New Jersey. The name Ohmsett is actually an acronym, which stands for Oil and Hazardous Materials Simulated Environmental Test Tank.
This is the only facility of its kind where full-scale oil spill response equipment testing, research, and training can be conducted in a marine environment with oil under controlled environmental conditions. Variables such as waves, temperature, and oil types are able to be controlled. A benefit of this facility is that it provides an environmentally safe place to conduct objective testing and to develop devices and techniques for the control of oil and hazardous material spills.
The mission of Ohmsett is to strengthen awareness of oil spill pollution prevention and response methods, while at the same time remaining committed to the well being of its customers, employees, and associates.
The facility, located an hour south of New York City, in Leonardo, New Jersey, is maintained and operated by the Minerals Management Service (MMS), a bureau in the U.S. Department of the Interior (which is a Federal agency) that manages the nation's natural gas, oil and other mineral resources on the outer continental shelf (OCS). They do this through a contract with MAR, Incorporated.
The Ohmsett facility was originally built by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1974 and was operated by that same agency until 1987. At that time, it was known as the Oil and Hazardous Materials Simulated Environmental Test Tank, or OHMSETT. It is now just referred to by the acronym. In 1989, Ohmsett, as it was known then, was closed and responsibility for the facility was transferred to the U.S. Navy (USN). This was done because the facility is located on the Naval Weapons Station Earle in Leonardo, NJ.
Title VII of the Ocean Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) gave MMS the lead responsibility for reactivation of Ohmsett in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. The MMS was also charged with the continuing operation and maintenance of the facility as a national test facility. The MMS refurbished Ohmsett beginning in 1990 and reopened it for testing in 1992. Costs for the yearly operation and maintenance of Ohmsett are covered by the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (OSTLF). The OSTLF derives its funds from a tax on companies that produce or transport oil. Because of this, no appropriated taxpayer dollars are used to support this unique oil spill response technology testing, training, and research facility.