In-situ burning of oil in coastal marshes. 2. Oil spill cleanup efficiency as a function of oil type, marsh type, and water depth

Qianxin Lin, Irving A Mendelssohn, Kenneth Carney, Scott M Miles, Nelson P Bryner, William D Walton
Environmental Science & Technology 2005 March 15, 39 (6): 1855-60
In-situ burning of spilled oil, which receives considerable attention in marine conditions, could be an effective way to cleanup wetland oil spills. An experimental in-situ burn was conducted to study the effects of oil type, marsh type, and water depth on oil chemistry and oil removal efficiency from the water surface and sediment. In-situ burning decreased the totaltargeted alkanes and total targeted polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the burn residues as compared to the pre-burn diesel and crude oils. Removal was even more effective for short-chain alkanes and low ring-number PAHs. Removal efficiencies for alkanes and PAHs were >98% in terms of mass balance although concentrations of some long-chain alkanes and high ring-number PAHs increased in the burn residue as compared to the pre-burn oils. Thus, in-situ burning potentially prevents floating oil from drifting into and contaminating adjacent habitats and penetrating the sediment. In addition, in-situ burning significantly removed diesel oil that had penetrated the sediment for all water depths. Furthermore, in-situ burning at a water depth 2 cm below the soil surface significantly removed crude oil that had penetrated the sediment. As a result, in-situ burning may reduce the long-term impacts of oil on benthic organisms.

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