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Bioremediation of Alaskan Oil Spill (at length)

Sean Chamberlin seachild at EARTHLINK.NET
Sun Dec 4 20:10:47 EST 1994

Ian Sanderson wrote:

> IS> From what research I have done, I have determined that there have
> IS> been no uses of genetically modified organisms outside of laboratory
> IS> conditions...is this true?

Mark Robbins replied:

>    No uses? Who do you think cleaned up the Exxon Valdez spill?
>   This is a front cover story of a recent NASA TECH BRIEFS; the person
>   who invented the oil eating mechanism and its encapsulation. It is
>   the "Mission Accomplished" Issue - Volume 18, Number 9.  You can get
>   info about the microencapsulation process of the microorganisms by
>   contacting :
>  Mr John Sukaly
>  Petrol Rem, Inc.
>  1405 Parkway View Drive
>  Pittsburgh, PA  15205
>  (412) 787-7876

In the interest of avoiding any misunderstandings, I would like to
emphasize that GMO's were NOT applied in Prince William Sound after the
Valdez Spill in March.  In fact, NO bacteria were applied at all.  All of
the bioremediation that took place involved stimulation of NATURAL
oil-degrading populations using fertilizers.

In June, 1989,the EPA and Exxon undertook field investigations and testing
of various fertlizers, primarily slow-release/high nitrogen, to stimulate
bioremediation of the spilled crude oil.  After encouraging pilot studies,
74 miles of shoreline were treated and studied for a period of 3 years.

In general, the application of fertilizers was successful in stimulating
bioremediation 3-5X faster than on untreated shorelines.  The principal
factor controlling the rate of bioremediation was the amount of nitrogen
delivered to the sediment pore water.  Other factors, such as crude
weathering prior to application, shoreline composition, wave energy and
temperature will also greatly effect rates of bioremediation.

It should be noted that studies in other locations have been conducted.
For the most part, bioremediation can assist shoreline cleanup in the
latter stages of cleanup (low level contamination).  The effectiveness of
bioremediation on open water spills has not been conclusively demonstrated,
in my opinion.

This information and more can be found in two stimulating references:

"Bioremediation Effectiveness following the Exxon Valdez Spill", James
Bragg, Roger Prince, E. James Harner, and Ronald Atlas.  Proceedings of the
1993 International Oil Spill Conference, March 29-April 1, 1993.  Sponsored
by the U.S. Coast Guard, American Petroleum Institute and the EPA.
API Publication# 4580

"Bioremediation for Shoreline Cleanup Following the 1989 Alaskan Oil
Spill", James Bragg, Roger Prince, John Wilkinson and Ronald Atlas. Dec.
1992.  Published by Exxon.  Contact: Dr. R.R. Lessard, Oil Spill Technology
Coordinator, Exxon Research and Engineering Company, P.O. Box 101, Florham
Park, NJ 07932.

I'd be more than happy to discuss this topic further if anyone is interested.

seachild at earthlink.net              ~~            ~~            ~~
                                ~~~  ~~~     ~~~    ~~~     ~~~    ~~~
Sean Chamberlin, Ph.D.     ~~~~         ~~~~           ~~~~            ~~~~
Redondo Beach, CA               "Who walk but the bacteria..."

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