US Coast Guard White Paper

Save the Water™, Inc. POC: Frank Ramos (Contracts/Technical)
8723 N.W. 11 Street frankramos@savethewater.org
Plantation, Fl 33322
Telephone: (786) 417-7000

Oil Spill Damage Assessment and Restoration – Technical Proposal HSCG32-10-R-R00019

Section A: Technical Approach – During an oil spill and subsequent reclamation of bio systems, detailed chemical analysis is essential to respond to questions that will arise. Source, toxicity, persistence in the environment, product characteristics initially and after weathering, etc., are a few of the questions that must be answered to track surface restoration technologies.

Chemistry is an important component of the activities that the Save the Water™ (STW™) Laboratory is engaged in to fulfill its mission to conduct water research to identify toxic chemicals harmful to humans, animals and the environment and to find methods to eliminate the toxins and improve the quality of water. Chemical analysis of the oil entering the environment and its many chemical transformations through reaction with man-made treatments and biological degradation dictates that a thorough chemical study be conducted using the latest techniques in analytical chemistry. In many cases, measurements can be made to the parts per trillion ranges which are very helpful in identifying toxins in bio tissues.

STW™ proposes to use gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GC/MS), which is the ideal equipment for detecting and characterizing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Crude oil contains a significant amount of PAHs which are considered carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic. In addition, our laboratory is equipped with inductively coupled plasma (ICP), high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), and the scientific personnel required. The STW™ Laboratory will be able to perform tests on oil and its derivatives on beach substrate, contaminated water, and bio-flesh extractions to very sensitive levels.
The local economy of the affected area will suffer the lasting effects of PAH contamination.

Decades later, after the horrifying effects of birds covered with oil are forgotten, the PAHs below the surface of the mangroves and the beach will be affecting the food chain of microorganisms and the economic development of the area. The service provided by the STW™ PAH tracing study will help all coastal areas in assessing the risks associated with an oil spill and its economic impact. STW™ proposes to study both the physical and biological changes in sites that were contaminated with petroleum and subsequently treated during cleanup. The study will focus on two specific purposes; 1) to evaluate the effects of both oil and clean up on the physical and biological recovery of the shorelines, and 2) evaluation of the physical substrate or other habitat characteristics that will be appropriate for biological communities’ recovery.

A multidisciplinary approach is required rather than a series of isolated studies. Chemical sampling is an integral part of geomorphological and biological studies constitute the major components of the monitoring effort. Thus this study will link research findings from all three disciplines.

The objective of this study is to monitor the persistence of crude petroleum contamination from the Horizon Deep Water Spill, to characterize the chemical composition of oil residues, and to provide information for mapping the degree and distribution of shoreline contamination.

Different shoreline types are affected differently by oil spills and basic questions arise which include:

  • How long will the oil that penetrated into the beach substrate persist in the environment?
  • How long will it take shorelines modified by washing or berm relocation to return to their original physical configurations?
  • What improvements can be made on our understanding concerning which shorelines are more sensitive to petroleum contamination and/or treatment effects?

The type of crude petroleum spilled greatly affects its physical behavior, persistence, fate, and effects on biological communities. As a result, chemical analysis of oil residues is critical to understanding both the fate and the effects of spilled petroleum in the environment. It is also important to track how the oil changes as it weathers over space and time. For example, emulsified oil that strands on shore has very different physical properties and behavior, compared to fresh liquid oil. Fresh oil residues are more amiable to biodegradation than emulsified oil.

A similar study was performed after the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in 1989. We hope that a cooperative effort can be established to the advantage of the environment and knowledge of the impact for science and STW™. Save the Water™ is a nonprofit organization located in Southeast Florida with easy access to the affected areas.

Section B: Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) Cost

Start up costs: $52,000.00. Initial mobilization, transportation, and lodging for on the ground personnel, sampling, supplies, managerial costs, miscellaneous.

Per month costs to operate: $97,000.00 (includes Scientists, Technicians, Research assistants, Accountant, Management, Equipment leases, Supplies, Overhead)

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