Behavior of a chemically-dispersed oil and a whole oil on a near-shore environment
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To investigate the use of dispersants as an oil spill chemical countermeasure in the surf-zone, a simulated oil spill was conducted at the Shoreline Environmental Research Facility (SERF), formerly known as the Coastal OilSpill Simulation System (COSS), a wave tank facility in Corpus Christi, Texas. Sand was added to each tank to establish a beach with a prescribed slope of 10 degrees. Natural seawater flowed continually through the system to emulate alongshore currents. The replicated experimental treatments included pre-mixed oil plus dispersant (three tanks), oil only (three tanks), and unoiled controls (two tanks). Known amounts of either whole oil or dispersed oil were added to the respective tanks. Both the sediment and water column were periodically sampled during the 10-day experiment, and a materials balance on the oil was determined for both oil treatments. The environmental compartments where oil accumulated were sediments, water column, and non-aqueous-phase layer. The discharge from the tanks was presumed to be the primary sink, as water was drawn from the tanks at a known and constant flow rate. Tidal cycles were simulated by varying the computer-controlled influent rate. The oil mass (measured as total petroleum hydrocarbons) for each compartment/sink was calculated using data from four time points. At the experiment's conclusion, approximately 49% of the applied oil for the oiled treatment remained in the tanks sorbed to sediments or other surfaces. The rest of the oil was removed via the effluent. In the chemically-dispersed oil treatment, all of the oil was flushed from the tanks; no oil (<<1%) remained on the sediments. These studies indicate that a timely dispersant application to spilled oil can reduce residual oil accumulation on beach substrates. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.
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