- to improve the observation and predictions of oil spreading in the sea using novel on-line sensors on-board vessels, fixed structures or gliders, and smart data transfer into operational awareness systems;
- to examine the true environmental impacts and benefits of a suite of marine oil spill response methods (mechanical collection in water and below ice, in situ burning, use of chemical dispersants, bioremediation, electro-kinetics, and combinations of these) in cold climate and ice-infested areas;
- to assess the impacts on biota of naturally and chemically dispersed oil, in situ burning residues and non-collected oil using biomarker methods and to develop specific methods for the rapid detection of the effects of oil pollution;
- to develop a strategic Net Environmental Benefit Analysis tool (sNEBA) for oil spill response strategy decision making.
A true trans-disciplinary consortium will carry out the project. Oil sensors will be applied to novel platforms such as ferry-boxes, smart buoys, and gliders. The environmental impacts of the oil spill response methods will be assessed by performing pilot tests and field experiments in the coastal waters of Greenland, as well as laboratory tests in Svalbard and the Baltic Sea with the main focus on dispersed oil, in situ burning residues and non-collected oil. The sNEBA tool will be developed to include and overarch the biological and technical knowledge obtained in the project, as well as integrate with operational assessments being based on expertise on coastal protection and shoreline response. This can be used in establishing cross-border and trans-boundary cooperation and agreements. The proposal addresses novel observation technology and integrated response methods at extreme cold temperatures and in ice. It also addresses the environmental impacts and includes a partner from Canada. The results are vital for the offshore industry and will enhance the business of oil spill response services.
Recent large accidents with oil spills in the marine environment have shown that there is a need for better oil spill response technology, capacity and knowledge on how to balance the efficiency of the response with its environmental impact. There is a need for on-line monitoring of oil and for integrated oil spill response technologies, based on the environmental impact. Off-shore oil exploration in the Arctic together with climate change and reduction in sea ice coverage in the Arctic are opening up for the northern shipping routes, and thus creating a higher risk of oil accidents in the Arctic. This is important for people living in the Arctic, for companies involved in offshore activities, and for oil spill response authorities and their cross-border collaboration bodies. The overall objectives of the project were to:
• explore the true environmental impacts and benefits of a suite of marine oil spill response technologies in cold climates and ice-infested areas in the northern Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea. The response methods include mechanical collection of oil in water and below ice, in situ burning, use of chemical dispersants, natural biodegradation and combinations of these;
• assess in particular the impacts of naturally and chemically dispersed oil, in situ burning residues and non-collected oil, on fish, mussels, crustaceans and macro algae, using highly sensitive biomarker methods, and to develop specific methods for the rapid detection of the effects of oil pollution on biota;
• improve the observation and predictions of oil spill distribution and fate in the sea using novel on-line sensors on vessels, fixed structures or gliders, and smart data transfer to operational awareness systems;
• develop a strategic Net Environmental Benefit Analysis tool (sNEBA) for oil spill response strategy decision making in cold climates and ice-infested areas.
The main conclusions of the project are that developed systems for on-line monitoring on different platforms of oil in the water phase are on levels that are ready to be implemented and marketed. A novel under-ice oil recovery device for oil under ice collection was developed and will soon be ready for launching on the market. The application of dispersants for enhancing oil removal from seawater by biodegradation provided contradictory results, and more research is needed. Toxicity tests showed that dispersed oils can be more acute toxic than oil and therefore dispersants should be used with caution in sensitive areas such as the Arctic and the Baltic Sea. The results from the unique in situ burning experiment in Greenland and the environmental impacts showed that this is a method that can be used in remote areas under suitable conditions. A novel Environment & Oil Spill Response (EOS) analytical tool for environmental assessment to support oil spill response design was developed and launched on the internet.