Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Toxicity evaluation with the microtox® test to assess the impact of in situ oiled shoreline treatment options: natural attenuation and sediment relocation

January 1, 2003

Changes in the toxicity levels of beach sediment, nearshore water, and bottom sediment samples were monitored with the Microtox® Test to evaluate the two in situ oil spill treatment options of natural attenuation (natural recovery––no treatment) and sediment relocation (surf washing). During a series of field trials, IF-30 fuel oil was intentionally sprayed onto the surface of three mixed sediment (pebble and sand) beaches on the island of Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway (78°56 N, 16°45 E). At a low wave-energy site (Site 1 with a 3-km wind fetch), where oil was stranded within the zone of normal wave action, residual oil concentrations and beach sediment toxicity levels were significantly reduced by both options in less than five days. At Site 3, a higher wave-energy site with a 40-km wind fetch, oil was intentionally stranded on the beach face in the upper intertidal/supratidal zones, above the level of normal wave activity. At this site under these experimental conditions, sediment relocation was effective in accelerating the removal of the oil from the sediments and reducing the Microtox® Test toxicity response to background levels. In the untreated (natural attenuation) plot at this site, the fraction of residual oil remaining within the beach sediments after one year (70%) continued to generate a toxic response. Chemical and toxicological analyses of nearshore sediment and sediment-trap samples at both sites confirmed that oil and suspended mineral fines were effectively dispersed into the surrounding environment by the in situ treatments. In terms of secondary potential detrimental effects from the release of stranded oil from the beaches, the toxicity level (Microtox® Test) of adjacent nearshore sediment samples did not exceed the Canadian regulatory limit for dredged spoils destined for ocean disposal.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2003
Title Toxicity evaluation with the microtox® test to assess the impact of <i>in situ</i> oiled shoreline treatment options: natural attenuation and sediment relocation
DOI 10.1016/S1353-2561(03)00039-2
Authors Kenneth Lee, Gary Wohlgeschaffen, Gilles H. Tremblay, B. Thomas Johnson, Gary A. Sergy, Roger C. Prince, Chantal C. Guenette, Edward H. Owens
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Spill Science and Technology Bulletin
Series Number
Index ID 70025441
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization