National Research Council of Canada. NRC Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences
National Research Council of Canada. NRC Institute for Chemical Process and Environmental Technology
National Research Council of Canada. NRC Biotechnology Research Institute
National Research Council of Canada. NRC Industrial Materials Institute
In 1970, approximately 2000 m3 of Bunker C crude oil impacted 300 km of Nova Scotia's coastline following the grounding of the tanker Arrow. Only 10% of the contaminated coast was subjected to cleanup, the remainder was left to cleanse naturally. To determine the long-term environmental impact of residual oil from this spill event, samples of sediment and interstitial water were recovered in 1993, 1997 and 2000 from a sheltered lagoon in Black Duck Cove. This heavily oiled site was intentionally left to recover on its own. Visual observations and chemical analysis confirmed that substantial quantities of the weathered cargo oil were still present within the sediments at this site. However, direct observations of benthic invertebrate abundance suggest that natural processes have reduced the impacts of the residual oil. To confirm this hypothesis, sediment and interstitial water samples from Black Duck Cove were assessed with a comprehensive set of biotests and chemical assays.Residual oil in the sediments had limited effect on hepatic CYP1A protein levels and mixed function oxygenase (MFO) induction in winter flounder (Pleuronectes americanus). No toxicity was detected with the Microtox solid phase test (Vibrio fischeri). Significant sediment toxicity was detected by the amphipod survival test (Eohaustorius estuarius) in four out of the eight contaminated sediments. Interstitial water samples were deemed non-toxic by the Microtox 100% test (Vibrio fischeri) and the echinoid fertilization test (Lytechinus pictus). Sediment elutriates were also found to be non-toxic in the grass shrimp embryo-larval toxicity (GSELTOX) test (Palaemonetes pugio).Recovery at this contaminated site is attributed to natural processes that mediated biodegradation and physical removal of oil from the sediments. In support of the latter mechanism, mineralization experiments showed that all test sediments had the capacity for hexadecane, octacosane and naphthalene degradation, while chemical analysis confirmed that the Bunker C oil from the Arrow had undergone substantial biodegradation.
Spill Science and Technology Bulletin8, no. 2: 187–199.