Project yields new information for Oil Industry and Government Agencies

August 15, 2012 • Filed under: News — melanie.rohr

Work led by Bob Perkins (INE) on toxicity & biodegradation of oil and dispersed oil in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas culminated in a presentation to a large audience of policy makers and public stakeholders.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration favorably noted the project results and Perkins’ work in a recent (July) article, “How would chemical dispersants work on an Arctic Oil Spill?” published on the NOAA Response & Restoration web site.

This project was a multi-sponsored Joint Industry Program (JIP) of applied research. Perkins and his colleagues establish a laboratory in Barrow (in the Barrow Arctic Research Center). This study was unique in that the research team tested marine organisms and their response to oil and dispersants under ambient conditions from the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

According to Dr. J. Whitney, NOAA Regional Response Coordinator for Alaska, “This workshop garnered attention from the oil industry, government regulatory and natural resource agencies, academia, Alaska North Slope residents, private consultants, and non-governmental organizations. It concluded with a brief discussion of Net Environmental Benefit Analysis, a scientific process of weighing the costs against the benefits to the environment, with emphasis on the importance of making this process both science-based and, at the same time, compatible with listening to the subsistence Alaska Native population, a significant and valuable voice in the Arctic.”

This continuing work also supports a PhD student in Microbiology. Research team members include Dr. Mary Beth Leigh (IAB) and Kelly Mcfarland (INE/IAB), and Jack Word (NewFields Northwest).

Image top left: PI Bob Perkins uses an ice saw to create a hole through the 3-foot thick sea ice near Barrow, AK.
Image top right: field team retrieves marine samples for testing.
Inset image: Close up of ice saw.

All photos courtesy of research team.