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Responding to Oil Spills in Coastal Marshes : The Fine Line between Help and Hindrance

By Hoff, Rebecca Z.

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Book Id: WPLBN0000661369
Format Type: PDF eBook
File Size: 49.34 KB.
Reproduction Date: 2005
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Title: Responding to Oil Spills in Coastal Marshes : The Fine Line between Help and Hindrance  
Author: Hoff, Rebecca Z.
Volume:
Language: English
Subject: Science., Ecology & environment, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (U.S.)
Collections: National Oceanographic Data Center
Historic
Publication Date:
Publisher: Government Reference Publication

Excerpt
Excerpt: Responding To Oil Spills In Coastal Marshes, The fine line between help and hindrance. Marsh environments are highly sensitive to oiling and thus receive high priority for protection during oil spills. When protection fails, and marshes are oiled, questions arise about the advantages and disadvantages of cleanup in these sensitive habitats. Follow-up studies from past spills have documented that inappropriate response activities can cause additional harm to oil-impacted marshes. Less clearly delineated are the conditions when cleanup is desirable in a marsh; which methods should be employed and at what point intervention is no longer useful. The basic lessons about impacts of oil and subsequent response activities in marshes have been known for years (Mattson et al. 1977, Westree 1977, McCauley and Harrel 1981). The Amoco Cadiz spill in France illustrated the complications from sediment removal at the Ile Grande marsh, when such activities greatly increased erosion of the marsh and substantially delayed vegetative recovery (Baca et al. 1987, Vandermeulen et al. 1981). However, in cold temperate environments, it has also been clearly documented that heavily oiled marshes where oil is not removed may be impacted for decades (Table 1). The Metula spill in Chile is an extreme example of slow recovery; after 20 years, little change has occurred (Vandermeulen and Jotcham 1986, Teal et al. 1992, Baker et al. 1993). At some spills occurring in warmer regions that are less severely impacted by crude oils, very limited cleanup has constituted a successful response and recovery has been relatively rapid (e.g., Neches River UNOCAL spill; NOAA 1994, Table 2). Monitoring studies conducted in oil-impacted marshes and experimental research during the past two decades have documented the complexity of marsh ecology and the parameters that affect the severity of impacts to these systems (De la Cruz et al. 1981, DeLaune et al. 1984, Alexander and Webb 1985). This knowledge complicates decisions regarding cleanup in marshes, because parameters such as substrate type, plant species, season of impact, oil type, and climate may all affect the eventual recovery of an oil-impacted marsh (Table 3).

Table of Contents
Contents Introduction ..................................................... 1 Cleanup Decision-Making .................................... 4 Defining recovery............................................................................5 Timelines for ?recovery?..................................................................5 Marsh Cleanup Techniques..................................... 7 Natural degradation/no response........................................................8 Vacuum/pumping............................................................................8 Low-pressure flushing......................................................................9 Vegetation cutting ...........................................................................9 Burning........................................................................................ 10 Bioremediation ............................................................................. 11 Sediment removal/replanting .......................................................... 11 Conclusions ..................................................... 12 References....................................................... 14

 

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