Oil Spills in Polar Climates: The Bahia Paraiso Accident Conference Paper uri icon


  • Copyright 1991, Offshore Technology Conference. Spillage of ∼600,000 liters of refined product (diesel fuel arctic, DFA) into Arthur Harbor in January 1989 by the Bahia Paraiso marked the beginning of one of the first major spill clean-up and monitoring efforts in Antarctica. The impacted area contains numerous islands, breeding sites for sea birds and penguins, seal habitats, as well as abundant assemblages of macroalgae and invertebrates. Intertidal areas were most directly impacted and all components of the harbor ecosystem were contaminated during the first few weeks of the spill. DFA was detected in tissues from birds, limpets, macroalgae, clams, bottom feeding fish as well as in water and sediments. While the most intense contamination was during the first few weeks, some areas continued to be contaminated one year after the incident. The high energy environment, the relatively small volume of material released, and the volatility of the refined product combined to limit the spill's impact both areally and temporally. Even in this polar climate most of the spilled material evaporated. The remaining material was diluted with seawater and swept from the area by winds and currents.

author list (cited authors)

  • Kennicutt, M. C., Sweet, S. T., McDonald, T. J., & Denoux, G. J.

citation count

  • 1

publication date

  • May 1991