Oil Spills and Bioremediation in Cold Climates
Bioremediation in cold climates
This project is collaborative with the Australian Antarctic Division and Southern Cross University.
Australian Antarctic Division: Project 2915, 2007-2012
George, Christensen, King, McIntyre, McRae, Snape, Star
Rates of depletion of lubricant and fuel contaminants from Antarctic regions during natural attenuation and remediation procedures
Australian Antarctic Division: Project 3054, 2008-2012
Harrison, George, King, Lane
Ecological risks associated with the use of fuels in Antarctica: characterising hydrocarbon behaviour and assessing toxicity on sensitive early life stages of Antarctic marine invertebrates
Australian Antarctic Division: Project 4142, 2012-2015
Harrison, George, Lane, King
Toxicity of chemically and physically dispersed fuels on Antarctic marine biota - applicability of dispersant use for fuel spill response planning
Australian Antarctic Division: Project 4100, 2012-2016
Hose, George, Ferrari, King, Snape, Siciliano
Residual toxicity and risk assessment of petroleum hydrocarbons in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic soils.
Australian Antarctic Division: Project 4180, 2012-2017
Stark, Palmer, King, Roberts, Johnstone, Hince, Snape, Smith, Creuwels, Mondon, Riddle, Power, Leeming, Strak, George, Smith, Cawthorn, Wise, Raymond, Spence
Human impacts of Antarctic stations on nearshore ecosystems
Australian Antarctic Division: Project 4135, 2012-2016
King, George, Townsend, Batley, Chapman, Warne, van Dam, Adams, Virtue, Fox, Cooper, Raymond, Wasley, Wotherspoon, Candy
Development of environmental risk assessment and remediation guidelines for Antarctic and subantarctic marine and terrestrial environments.
Ellen Woolfenden: PhD, 2008-2011. Thesis: Investigations of the Rates of Removal and Compositional Changes of Low Molecular Weight Diesel in Contaminated Soil and Sediment from Polar Regions.
Max Easton: Honours, 2010. Thesis: The Long-Term Degradation Of Lubricant Oil In Antarctic Marine Sediments
PhD, 2012-current. Topic: Ecological risks associated with the use of fuels in Antarctica: characterising hydrocarbon behaviour and assessing toxicity on sensitive early life stages of Antarctic marine invertebrates
Tip sites are a source of pollution
The overall objective is to better understand the long-term environmental impact of spilled petroleum products in Antarctic marine systems. Decades of Antarctic exploration have left a significant legacy of petroleum pollution on-land and in nearshore marine environments, particularly around human stations. The natural attenuation of spilled diesel and lubricants occurs slowly in cold climates, particularly once the pollutants have adsorbed onto marine sediments. Major programmes funded by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) have identified the location of spills, and the nature and fate of some of the pollutants. This project addresses some of the significant uncertainties which still exist regarding the natural depletion and ecotoxicological impact of spilled diesel and lubricants in soils and in the marine environment.
Specific objectives are:
- To develop a quantitative method using cutting edge two-dimensional gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCxGC-TOFMS) to identify the components of spilled diesel and lubricants, especially the complex mixtures of recalcitrant residues and the secondary products of alteration.
- To calculate the rates of removal of pollutants in the marine environment by comprehensive statistical treatment of the chemical data-set, and to assess the processes by which this removal occurs (e.g. aerobic/anaerobic biodegradation, water-washing, etc).
- To assess the degradation rates and longevity of pollutant components against the biology of the disturbed communities of microbes and microfauna in the same experiments, so as to form a hypothesis of which components of the complex mixtures have the most important ecotoxicological response and environment impact.
- Using the most important single isolated or related groups of components, to test the specific ecotoxicological impact of each in the marine environment using a short-term field experiment and laboratory toxicity tests.
Some of the Outcomes
Diamondoids as remediation indicators
McIntyre, C., Harvey, P., Snape, I., and George, S.C. (2005) Diamondoids as bioremediation indicators for diesel spills. In: Abstract Book 22nd International Meeting on Organic Geochemistry: Vol. 1, (eds González-Vila, F.J., González-Pérez, J.A., Almendros, G.), EAOG, Seville, pp. 196-197.
Selective biodegradation of isoprenoid isomers
McIntyre, C., Harvey, P.McA., Ferguson, S.H., Wressnig, A.M., Volk, H., George, S.C. and Snape, I. (2007) Determining the extent of biodegradation of fuels using the diastereomers of acyclic isoprenoids. Environmental Science & Technology41, 2452-2458. doi: 10.1021/es0621288
Chemical composition of fuel from the hut of explorer Robert Falcon Scott, Cape Evans, Antarctica
SAB diesel changes over 5 years
Diesels and lubricants used at research stations can persist in terrestrial and marine sediments for decades, but knowledge of their effects on the surrounding environments is limited. In a 5 year in situ investigation, marine sediment spiked with Special Antarctic Blend (SAB) diesel was placed on the seabed of O'Brien Bay near Casey Station, Antarctica and sampled after 5, 56, 65, 104 and 260 weeks. The rates and possible mechanisms of removal of the diesel from the marine sediments are presented here. The hydrocarbons within the spiked sediment were removed at an overall rate of 4.7 mg total petroleum hydrocarbons kg−1 sediment week−1, or 245 mg kg−1 year−1, although seasonal variation was evident. The concentration of total petroleum hydrocarbons fell markedly from 2020±340 mg kg−1 to 800±190 mg kg−1, but after 5 years the spiked sediment was still contaminated relative to natural organic matter (160± 170 mg kg−1). Specific compounds in SAB diesel preferentially decreased in concentration, but not as would be expected if biodegradation was the sole mechanism responsible. Naphthalene was removed more readily than n-alkanes, suggesting that aqueous dissolution played a major role in the reduction of SAB diesel. 1,3,5,7- Teramethyladamantane and 1,3-dimethyladamantane were the most recalcitrant isomers in the spiked marine sediment.
Dissolution of aromatic compounds from marine sediment increases the availability of more soluble, aromatic compounds in the water column. This could increase the area of contamination and potentially broaden the region impacted by ecotoxicological effects from shallow sediment dwelling fauna, as noted during biodegradation, to shallow (b19 m) water dwelling fauna.
Volk, H., McIntyre, C., Batts, B.D. and George, S.C. (2005) Composition and origin of fuel from the hut of explorer Robert Falcon Scott, Cape Evans, Antarctica. Organic Geochemistry36, 655-661.
McIntyre, C., Harvey, P.McA., Ferguson, S.H., Wressnig, A.M., Snape, I. and George, S.C. (2007) Determining the extent of weathering of spilled fuel in contaminated soils using the diastereomers of pristine and phytane. Organic Geochemistry 38, 2131-2134. doi:10.1016/j.orggeochem.2007.07.010.
McIntyre, C., Harvey, P.McA., Ferguson, S.H., Wressnig, A.M., Volk, H., George, S.C. and Snape, I. (2007) Determining the extent of biodegradation of fuels using the diastereomers of acyclic isoprenoids. Environmental Science & Technology 41, 2452-2458.
Woolfenden, E.N.M., Hince, G., Powell, S.M., Stark, S.C., Snape, I., Stark, J.S., George, S.C., 2011. The rate of removal and the compositional changes of diesel in Antarctic marine sediment. Science of the Total Environment 410-411, 205-216.