Monday, 28 February 2011

Bioremediation: an overview of its development and use for oil spill cleanup

Rebecca Z. Hoff
NOAA Hazardous Materials Response and Assessment Division, Bin C15700, 7600 Sand Point Way, N.E., Seattle, WA 98115, USA

Available online 31 March 2003. 


Bioremediation as a technique for marine oil spill cleanup is reviewed in the context of its recent historical development in the United States, which was highly influenced by the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. The development of bioremediation is examined as a prototype for new environmental technologies, which involve interactions between scientific researchers, the public, the media and government regulators. Bioremediation has a role to play in long term cleanup of oil contaminated shorelines, especially in sensitive environments.

Article Outline

• References

So, Tell Me What Happens When Oil Spills Mix With Red Tides Or Algae Blooms?

All the conditions are right for the return of the Red Tide along the Western Gulf Coast of Florida. If you are unfamiliar with the Red Tide, that is when 100,000s of thousands of dead fish wash up on shore dead and rotted and the tide is red from the algae bloom in the Gulf. It is a literal disaster for Beach Communities, real estate prices, tourism, fishing, and the local beach eco-system as a whole. Some say it's nature's way of telling humans to stop polluting the oceans with run-off agricultural nitrates, and dirty storm water discharges which end up in the ocean.
As if the Red Tide was not bad enough, now a more serious issue is brewing in the Gulf of Mexico which threatens the shoreline. Namely, the oil spill and leak from the giant Horizon Oil Rig. Now then, we know that algae blooms turn toxic when they mix with chemical, questions is what happens when they mix with crude oil floating on the same surface of the water? It won't be pretty, and there will be mixtures that are for the most part unhealthy, worse, there have not been a lot of studies on this before, so no one really knows for sure.
Yes, we can guesstimate what the combination will be, but the bacteria counts and types in a Red Tide often change slightly each time, as the portions of chemicals, and algae are never exactly the same. And the density of the oil slick, and when it reaches the algae bloom or Red Tide cannot be known just yet. But, I guess we better figure this out and have some contingency plans for this potentially deadly combination.
Further, we don't know if this combination could nullify some of the disastrous damage the Red Tide usually does. Thus, for those areas hit by the Red Tide this year, assuming scientists are correct that this is a Red Tide year. And if we mix some Hurricane Weather and Tropical Storms in this year, remember Hurricane Season is coming and Tropical Storms will begin soon. Meaning there will be dispersion, dilution, re-combination, scattering, and this makes any sort of prediction fairly impossible.
Still, I dare to ask the question again; "Okay so, What Happens When Oil Spills Mix With Red Tides or Algae Blooms?" Inquiring minds would like to know, and I can't find a darn thing on the Internet about this, nor any other ecosystem disasters where these two events did occur simultaneously in this modern era, when the resultant could be measured with modern equipment.
One last comment - What happens if all this mess washes out of the Gulf of Mexico on the gulf-stream surface ocean currents and rounds around and up the East Coast and out into the Atlantic Ocean, while some recirculates around the Caribbean and back along the rest of the Gulf Coast? Please consider all this.
Lance Winslow is a retired Founder of a Nationwide Franchise Chain, and now runs the Online Think Tank. Lance Winslow believes sometimes we must ask the question!
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Oil Pollution and What It Is Doing to our World

Needless to mention, this is a very complex and sensitive subject. However, anyone over 50 years old can remember a childhood where the environment was quite different.
The world's population insane dependence on fossil fuels (while there are acceptable and non-polluting alternatives) is basically killing our clean and environment, and us with it.
What is Oil Pollution?
Oil pollution is simply the spilling of crude or refined petroleum product into the environment. There are some staggering statistics that follow.
These are statistics from the 1995 Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition, and have not been updated. It is estimated that the overall totals have increased two or three fold.
oAccidental spills from ships : 140 Million tons
oRoutine maintenance of ships and equipment: 511 Millions tons
oAir pollution in the rains (entering the seas): 348 Million tons
oLand disposal of fuels entering the seas: 1,374 Million tons
oNatural seepage (from sea sources) 234 Million tons
The above does NOT include China or India statistics. A total of 2,607 Millions of tons of petroleum had ended up in the environment (estimated in 1995). Now 11 years later, the total is estimated to have trippled, and we are witnessing a gradual increase in Earth temperature due to global warming, other alarming changes in the weather, pollution traces found in both the environment and animals (and plants) in the wild.
Despite the MARPOL rules (marine pollution act by the United Nations), and other legislation, oil pollution continues. A recent survey by marine toxicologists have confirmed alarming amounts of damage to the livers in a wide spectrum of marine fish and mammals. Almost all fish sampled had high levels of heavy metals in the tissue (crude oil contains a great deal of heavy metal, vanadium among them, which is toxic to most animals).
The bottom feeders and marine crustaceans (also living on the bottom of the sea) had an equally high level of absorbed heavy metals and other pollutants (PCB and Dioxin for example).
The natural microbes and small aquatic life that can biodegrade the oil (into water and carbon dioxide) are overwhelmed and cannot cope. There is a lack of available nutrients in areas that surround oil spills, and pollution sites.
One sees large groups of whales or dolphins beaching themselves, and puzzled scientists to explain why. It doesn't take much to figure it out. Whole species of plants and animals are disappearing on a regular basis.
Oil pollution can not be solved by legislation, or by being more careful. So much oil pollution enters the atmosphere, and then the environment, the only measure that we can take is to immediately reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. Places like California in the United States has already taken the first steps, but has not gone so far as outlawing the fossil fuel.
Knowing that there are fuel cells which can burn clean hydrogen, there are electric engines and solar cells to run the ubiquitous automobile. There is wind and wave power to create clean and non-polluting sources of electricity. Sadly the interests of big business are coming before the safety of the human race.
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BP Oil Spill and Gulf Coast Vacations

With the BP oil spill washing up ashore in Louisiana and now heading towards the Gulf coast beaches of Florida, tens of thousands of people have had their vacation plans ruined. Many people have canceled their vacations in these areas and have not made other vacation arrangements.
Obviously, this is a big blow to the Louisiana and Florida economies. Not only will both these states be losing millions upon millions of dollars in tourism money, but think of the people that are going to possibly be out of a job. Fishermen can't fish down their anymore, and if there are no lose business and people that work at them get laid off. Bars and restaurants are in the same boat (no pun intended), along with so many other businesses not just in these areas, but around the world.
This is truly a bad situation for a lot of folks. The Louisiana and Florida economy is continuing to take a big hit. And not to take that lightly, but for the people that had to or are going to cancel their vacation plans down on or around the Gulf Coast, there are other options for you.
I know once you make your vacation plans you get excited and you start to zero in on what your going to do once you reach your destination. But there are so many vacation spots around the world. Don't let this oil spill keep you from taking a vacation.
Don't get discouraged, plan another vacation somewhere else this year. And you just might find a place you like even better than the Gulf coast. There are a ton of nice coastal cities around the world where you can have a great time vacationing as well as experience different cultures.
Chuck is an expert author and has been successful in home based businesses because of his experience and honesty. He also enjoys helping people become successful. Chuck is responsible for the success of hundreds of people and has helped a lot of those people become millionaires.
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The Gulf Oil Spill

There are many things that occur in this world that can change our perspective or way of looking at situations. The Gulf oil spill is just one of them.
Many people have knee jerk reactions when something of this nature happens. Right away they assume that a so called disaster such as this would justify halting oil drilling. No doubt it is a bad scene and everything should be done to correct the problem, and help the people affected. However it doesn't warrant stopping oil drilling completely.
Oil drilling has been going on for years,with only a few spills. There is much more oil than this that seeps from the ocean floor every day,meaning that nature is polluting the environment more than us humans ever could. The problem is, this oil is all in one place.The thing to do is to discover what created the problem, fix it and make the industry safer and more productive.
If we Americans stop drilling, or any other project just because something might or has gone "wrong", pretty soon we will be doing nothing but sticking our heads in the sand waiting for the world to end. America was built on the idea of free enterprise and capitalism, we have created a world unparalleled in modern history. It wasn't accomplished by quitting every time a major problem arose. Thus we need to solve whatever difficulties arise, make lemonade from lemons and go on.
Government standing around and pointing fingers and taking over private business does nothing but make the problem worse, they have no solutions, only road blocks to success.
Alternative sources of energy need to be developed, however we will never out grow our need for oil, many,many products besides gasoline are derived from oil. Gasoline only consumes a small portion of the oil we use.
So far the oil spill hasn't effected much of our shore line, and it probably won't, the major thing affecting tourism along the gulf coast is fear, humans fear that something will happen, move past that and the problem will dissipate.
Already science has been working on ways to not only clean up the oil, but preventing the situation from happening again. No matter what we humans attempt to do, things will go "wrong", our job is to find ways to make the situation better, solve the problem and thus create a better world, not stick our heads in the sand and abandon the idea.
Gary has been a photographer for over 20 years, specializing in nature,landscapes and event photography.Besides visiting most of the United States, he has traveled to such places as Egypt,the Canary Islands,much of the Caribbean, and having studied Mayan Cultures in Central America, and the Australian Aboriginal way of life, photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in many different cultures!
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The effects of oil spill and clean-up on dominant US Gulf coast marsh macrophytes: a review

S. R. PezeshkiCorresponding Author Contact InformationE-mail The Corresponding Authora, M. W. Hesterb, Q. Linc and J. A. Nymand
a Department of Biology, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN 38152, USA
b Department of Biological Sciences, Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, LA 70402, USA
c Wetland Biogeochemistry Institute, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
d Department of Biology, University of Southwestern Louisiana, PO Box 42451, Lafayette, LA 70504, USA
Received 6 March 1999; 
accepted 25 August 1999. 
Available online 21 February 2000. 


The objective of this review was to synthesize existing information regarding the effects of petroleum hydrocarbons on marsh macrophytes in a manner that will help guide research and improve spill-response efficiency. Petroleum hydrocarbons affect plants chemically and physically. Although plants sometime survive fouling by producing new leaves, even relatively non-toxic oils can stress or kill plants if oil physically prevents plant gas-exchange. Plant sensitivity to fouling varies among species and among populations within a species, age of the plant, and season of spill. Physical disturbance and compaction of vegetation and soil associated with clean-up activities following an oil spill appear to have detrimental effects on the US Gulf coast marshes. Other techniques, including the use of chemicals such as cleaners or bioremediation, may be necessary to address the problem. Clean-up may also be beneficial when timely removal prevents oil from migrating to more sensitive habitats.


“Capsule”: This review should be useful in guiding future research to improve oil spill response efficiency.
Author Keywords: Bioremediation; Coastal marshes; Oil clean-up; Oil spill; Pollution; Plant stress

Article Outline

1. Introduction
2. Plant response to fouling
2.1. Physically induced effects
2.2. Chemically induced effects
2.3. Fouling of leaves versus fouling of soils
3. Season of spill
4. Interspecific sensitivity to oil spills
5. Intraspecific sensitivity to oil spills
6. Effects of clean-up activities on marsh vegetation
7. Indirect effects
8. Concluding remarks and future research direction
Corresponding Author Contact Information Corresponding author. Tel.: +1-901-678-4187; fax: +1-901-678-4746; email:



  • bootstrapping;
  • boat surveys;
  • census techniques;
  • sighting probabilities;
  • mortality;
  • population growth;
  • contaminants;
  • Enhydra lutris;
  • impacts of oil spill;
  • carcass recovery rates;
  • Prince William Sound;
  • Alaska
Abstract: This paper presents an estimate of the total number of sea otters that died as a direct consequence of the oil spill that occurred when the T/V Exxon Valdez grounded in Prince William Sound, Alaska on 24 March 1989. We compared sea otter counts conducted from small boats throughout the Sound during the summers of 1984 and 1985 to counts made after the spill during the summer of 1989. We used ratio estimators, corrected for sighting probability, to calculate otter densities and population estimates for portions of the Sound affected by the oil spill. We estimated the otter population in the portion of Prince William Sound affected by the oil was 6,546 at the time of the spill and that the post-spill population in the summer of 1989 was 3,898, yielding a loss estimate of approximately 2,650. Bootstrapping techniques were used to approximate confidence limits on the loss estimate of about 500–5,000 otters. The wide confidence limits are a result of the complex scheme required to estimate losses and limitations of the data. Despite the uncertainty of the loss estimate it is clear that a significant fraction of the otters in the spill zone survived. We observed otters persisting in relatively clean embayments throughout the oil spill zone suggesting that the highly convoluted coastline of Prince William Sound produced refuges that allowed some sea otters in the oil spill area to survive.

How to Use Oil Spill Booms

Oil spill accidents can happen and it is wise to be prepared for such an occurrence by having oil spill booms on your vessel. It does not really matter if you are carrying tons of oil in your cargo as your ships sets sail on the sea, or if you are fishing in a calm, placid lake. If there is an oil leak, you have a major problem on your hands, and you will be responsible for it.
If this happens, then it is also your responsibility to clean up the mess. Thus it always helps to be completely prepared. For that, you have to ensure that you carry oil absorbent spill kit equipment around for emergencies.
o To control an oil spillage, you have to be highly efficient and quick in dealing with the problem, before the oil spreads too far out. You can definitely call others for help, but before more aid comes your way, you must be able to control the spill immediately. It works best to have the oil cleanup products like absorbent pads and oil spill booms with you to take control of the situation yourself.
o If you have you have employees, it is best to have some type of training so you know what to do immediately in case of an oil spill before the situation gets out of hand. For this, you will have to make them go through the required training sessions, and teach them how to use the absorbent pads and oil spill booms properly. If you stay ignorant and helpless, you could be fined heavily for the damage that you will cause. Consider the training cost as an investment which will save your money in the future.
o When you spill oil, it usually will spread out thinly over the water. You need to surround the damaged area and contain the oil spillage so that the chemicals do not spread any further. For this, you will need oil spill booms. These booms soak in only the oil and repel the water. The harmful chemicals are skimmed off the surface without letting any further damage being done.
o Oil spill booms contain absorbent polypropylene which is held in a casing within a tough outer mesh. Oil spill booms come in segments that are effective even in rough water. They generally come in 10 or 20 foot in length and 5" or 8'' in diameter. They have carbon steel connectors on each side with a nylon rope running through them so the sections can easily be connected together.
There are some general guidelines that will help you while using an oil boom. Wear protective gears like goggles and gloves.
First find out the amount of oil that has been spilled and the extent of the damaged area. Then, connect the number of boom segments that you will need to surround the affected area.
Secure the exit points for the oil spill. Throw out on the water the oil only absorbent pads that come in the spill kit to soak up the oil that is surrounded by the oil spill booms.
The oil soaked pads and oil spill booms should be bagged once the spill is cleaned up and dispose of according to the local, state and federal regulations.
Remember, that it is required by law to report any oil spills on water and to have the necessary equipment on hand to assist in the clean up of the spill. If you are caught polluting any waterway the fines can be tremendous.
Travis Zdrazil is a successful businessman who has been part of a successful partnership since 1985. With over 10 years of business experience Travis uses his business expertise to select and supply businesses with products to aid in meeting EPA and OSHA requirements. Sign up for his free newsletter at or feel free to contact him if you have any questions on oil spill booms through the site.
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BP Promises to Clean Up Oil Spill Damage in the Gulf

We will be waiting a long time if we expect BP, one of the largest corporations in the world to just fork over billions of dollars because of the guilt they feel. The Obama government has to make them clean up oil spill damage done to the Gulf of Mexico by whatever means necessary. It will probably require a special act of congress or a presidential executive order before this giant conglomerate will actually admit to their mammoth blunder and start to somehow atone for the disastrous results of the massive oil spill, one of the biggest, if not the largest in the history of the planet. A plan to clean up oil spill runoff into the swamps and wildlife preserve is yet to be completely formulated and the Obama administration has to get in there and demand that this giant company face up to its fiscal and moral responsibilities.
Many thousands have lost their livelihoods due to the disaster and many thousands more have slipped below the poverty line at a time when the economy is already reeling from massive bailouts of the financial industry. Many fishermen who can't feed or clothe their own families now that fishing is next to impossible wonder where their government bailout will come. They truly wonder if BP (British Petroleum) will own up to the big price tag of fixing and re-establishing the ocean and wetlands so that they the fishermen can get back to doing what they have done for years to support their families. In order to clean up oil spill damage they know that money will not be enough, no matter the amount eventually paid. They also acknowledge that the community of those most affected must pool their own strength and resources and clean up oil spill damaged beaches, wetlands, creatures, and the gulf itself.
Of course the fishermen and others whose livelihoods have been destroyed also realize that some of them could come out with big settlements once the dust settles. A slew of lawsuits have already been filed and many more are gathering steam, information and signatures before being filed. BP is very concerned but it is such a gigantic corporation with so much cash in reserve for just such a catastrophe that any monies that they do end up dishing out will seem like chump change compared to the irreparable damage that the spill has caused. BP will do what all corporations do of course and that is to protect the bottom line for their investors and stockholders. They will fight tooth and nail to pay as little as possible when the claims come rolling in.
This is where the government must step in and represent the interests of the people not just the big corporations. This is a huge opportunity for politicians to finally do the right thing. But fishermen and other business people that have been affected by this oil spill are not holding their breath waiting for BP to help them. They know that first they will have to help themselves and fight with all of their might against business as usual.

BP Oil Spill - A Flip Flop on Regulation

Take a look at some of the comments over on the Wall Street Journal regarding the BP oil spill. You will notice certain trends, but the most glaring among them is this: the government failed to adequately regulate the oil industry.
That's right. The government failed to regulate the oil industry.
Excuse me if I'm missing something, but I assumed that the "drill, baby, drill" slogan was about the government NOT regulating the oil industry.
Let us get things straight. Offshore oil drilling, with or without regulation, is not safe. To continue to believe it to be a secure way to drill for oil is a flight of fancy that will only have disaster at its core. The BP oil spill, while a tragedy, would still occur even with proper regulations.
What could the government have done? Well, for those who believe government regulation is necessary, the federal government has clearly failed as regulatory overseers. For the last 20 years, regulation has been ceded to the oil industry. Despite President Obama's cries against the oil industry, his team has done little to remedy the situation. And, in a blow to progressives, the president actually planned to extend offshore oil drilling.
The problem we have here is one of deep hypocrisy. Americans can not both hate regulation and then wonder where the government was when companies fail to regulate themselves.
This is why America needs to come to a consensus on the role government must play in their lives. The BP oil spill shows that we do need regulation. Even those who were anti-regulation now agree that some form of regulation in necessary.
But we also must define the boundaries of government regulation. Hyperbole and insane rhetoric will not solve crises. Hating President Bush, President Obama, or blaming Ronald Reagan will not answer the question: how big do we want our government?
Let's start discussing these questions. In the mean time, there should be no more "anti-regulation' rhetoric. And for those who wish to blame the government for their lack of response, realize that you're angry because you believe in government, not because you don't.
David Lorango is a thinker, writer, musician and motivator dedicated to helping Americans and America rediscover its moral center and prosperity. He is an expert in new media and has thousands of tips and strategies to help small businesses succeed in a world filled with big money and big government. He is a regular blogger and his posts can be viewed at
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