Oil Spill Studies

Introductionnew concord

Websites of Interest

Past and Current Sources of Funding

Alaskan Natural Oil Seeps

10 Years After The Exxon Valdez Spill: A Summary

Introduction:

Since 1974, Dr. D. S. Page and Dr. E. S. Gilfillan have been conducting interdisciplinary studies on the fate and effects of oil spills on natural communities of animals and plants including ways in which to measure sublethal pollutant stress on plants and animals. Over the years, they have received support to study more than 12 oil spills world-wide. Major oil spill studies include those from the following vessels; Tamano, Zoe Colocotroni, New Concord, Amoco Cadiz, Exxon Valdez, and many other smaller spills. The group has also been involved in two experimental oil spills and has received contracts to study of the effects of used drilling fluids on marine animals and the effects of heavy metals on marine animals. Dr. Page has served as a testimonial expert in a variety of oil spill-related cases involving environmental damages including the Zoe Colocotroni , Amoco Cadiz, and Exxon Valdez, (State and Federal) litigations. In all cases, this involved environmental injury assessment studies and the evaluation of the injury claims of others.

Because oil spills occur in real-world environments, the presence of other natural and human factors have resulted in studies of the fate and effects of other pollutants such as heavy metals and alkyltins. Recent work has involved studying the mechanisms of toxic action of tributyltin on marine mussels in collaboration with colleagues at the Plymouth Marine Lab, UK and the University of the District of Columbia. A major current interest is studying multipollutant situations in which observed ecological change are associated with changes in the concentration of potential stressors using multivariate statistical techniques. These techniques will identify those stressors which are associated with the observed ecological changes.

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Websites:

http://www.valdezsciences.com/
This website relates to the Exxon Valdez oil spill and describes the state of Prince William Sound 10 years after the spill.

http://www.bowdoin.edu/chemistry/resources/exxon/index
This describes studies of the fate and effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and gives links to related sites.

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Past and Current Sources of Funding:

U.S. Government: EPA, BLM, USN, USAF
State of Maine: DEP, DMR
Government of Canada - Environmental Protection Service.
West of England Shipowners Mutual Protection and Indemnity Association
Brittania Club
Amoco Transport
Mobil Foundation
Texaco
Chevron
Pittston Company
Olympic Petroleum
American Petroleum Institute
Exxon Production Research Company
UK Club
Exxon USA


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Some Past and Present Oil Spill Projects

Effects of Tamano Spill on the Marine Environment:

spills studied listState of Maine Department of Marine Resources Contract DMR 5-75, D.W. Mayo, D.S. Page, and E.S. Gilfillan, Bowdoin College. This study was conducted between 1972 and 1976 and was designed as a multidisciplinary program to study the fate and effects of the Tamano oil spill in Casco Bay, Maine in support of natural resource damage claims by the State of Maine. The chemistry program was closely coordinated with biological sampling of commercially important bivalve species. Physiological studies were conducted to determine the extent to which given body burdens of petroleum decreased the productivity of bivalve resources in the spill zone. The results were used as a basis for compensation claims. The chemistry principal investigators were Dr. D. S. Page and Dr. D.W. Mayo and the biology/physiology principal investigator was Dr. E. S. Gilfillan.

tamano in casco bay and oiled shore, long island

Comprehensive Study of Petroleum Hydrocarbons in the Marine Environment at Long Cove, Searsport Maine--An Ecological, Physiological, Chemical and Histopathological Survey:

Maine Department of Environmental Protection Contract #906439, E.S. Gilfillan, S.A. Hanson, D.S. Page, D.W. Mayo, J. Cooley (Bowdoin College), J. Chalfant, T. Archambeault, A. West (Maritec), and J.C. Harshbarger (Smithsonian Institution), (1977). This study was conducted between 1976 and 1977 and was designed as a multidisciplinary program to study the fate and effects of a pipeline break of jet fuel that impacted productive shellfish areas in Long Cove, Searsport, Maine. This study included the following elements that were conducted in a concurrent, coordinated manner: Sediment and clam tissue hydrocarbon chemistry; clam physiology; shellfish population densities; shellfish histopathology; reduction in standing clam crop and monetary damage calculation. The chemistry program was closely coordinated with biological sampling of commercially important bivalve species. Physiological studies were conducted to determine the extent to which given body burdens of petroleum decreased the productivity of bivalve resources in the spill zone. The results were used as a basis for compensation claims. The figures below show the sampling plan for clam physiology and the key result relating scope for growth (the energy available to the clam for growth and reproduction) to aromatic hydrocarbons in the clam's tissues. Clams with higher aromatic hydrocarbons from the spill had lower scope for growth - a negative growth effect. The chemistry principal investigator was Dr. D. S. Page and the biology/physiology principal investigator was Dr. E. S. Gilfillan.

sampling plan and tissue aromatic hydrocarbon graph

 Zoe Colocotronis Oil Spill NRDA:

Beginning in 1977, the Bowdoin Group conducted an extensive field sampling program and laboratory analytical program to provide information on the fate and effects of a tropical oil spill in support of litigation. The Bowdoin Group extensively reviewed and critiqued the results of studies of other contractors as part of the work program. The chemistry program (D. S. Page) tracked the fate of the petroleum by capillary gas chromatographymangrove ecology and an infaunal biology program (E. S. Gilfillan) tracked the effects of the spill through biological community structure analysis. The effects of petroleum on mangrove trees were also measured by measuring the salt balance in the trees’ tissues. The Bowdoin Group included other variables such as sediment salinity and temperature in the study plan. Salinity was found to be the major cause of stress in the spill zone. The study continued through 1981. The chemistry principal investigator was Dr. D. S. Page and the biology/physiology principal investigator was Dr. E. S. Gilfillan.

Tidal Area Dispersant Project: Fate and Effects of Chemically Dispersed Oil in the Nearshore Benthic Environment: 1980-1983, funded by the American Petroleum Institute. This multidisciplinary project involved the establishment of two test areas and a control area at a location on the Maine coast at which test spills of dispersant-treated and non-dispersed oil were conducted. Pre-spill baseline studies were conducted prior to the spills. Monitoring of dispersed oil in water was done at the time of the spills. Injury assessment and oil fate measurements were conducted for 2 years after the test oil spills. The study design was a random matrix design for the inter-tidal zone stations and fixed subtidal stations. Benthic sediment sampling for chemistry and infaunal biology and shellfish was done concurrently. The effects of the dispersed oil were transient and short-lived. The effects of non-dispersed oil extened for a year or more after the spills. The chemistry principal investigator was Dr. D. S. Page and the biology/physiology principal investigator was Dr. E. S. Gilfillan. A member of the Bowdoin Group (E. S. Gilfillan) later used the results of this study to prepare dispersant use guidelines for the State of Maine.

tidal area dispersant and post-spill sampling pictures


Amoco Cadiz Oil Spill NRDA Study Program: 1979-1986: This multi-year project was done in support of litigation. This consisted of an integrated program of chemistry and biology sampling in the field to establish the effects of the spill on the commercial oyster fishery and to compare those effects with those of other sources of pollutants measured in the spill zone including sewage and heavy metals. Sediment and oil samples were taken in the field for hydrocarbon analysis to determine the rate of oil loss at a site and for fingerprinting of other sources of petroleum. The Bowdoin Group extensively reviewed and critiqued the results of studies of other contractors as part of the work program. The chemistry principal investigator was Dr. D. S. Page and the biology/physiology principal investigator was Dr. E. S. Gilfillan.

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Shoreline Ecology Program; 1990-Present: This is a major, multi-year program designed to measure the fate and effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on shoreline biological communities in Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Alaska. The Bowdoin Group is part of a team of investigators supported by Exxon USA to conduct injury assessment studies as the operational part of the EXXON NRDA and Litigation Support programs. The Bowdoin Group was responsible for the study design of the field programs and the data analysis of biological and chemical data obtained from field programs conducted in 1990, 1991, 1993, 1998 and 1999. In addition to relating chemical results to biological effects, analysis of chemical data was done to determine non-spill petroleum sources. These results were related to biological community health and spill recovery. As part of the litigation process, the Bowdoin Group extensively reviewed and critiqued the results of studies of other contractors across many disciplines as part of the work program. The chemistry principal investigator was Dr. D. S. Page and the biology/physiology principal investigator was Dr. E. S. Gilfillan. See http://www.valdezscience.com/

hydrocarbon inputs

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