Study of residual oil in Bay Jimmy sediment 5 years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: Persistence of sediment retained oil hydrocarbons and effect of dispersants on desorption.

Abstract

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DwH) oil spill contaminated ~1,773km of the Gulf of Mexico shorelines. Yet, few field data are available on the long-term fate and persistency of sediment-retained oil. While an unprecedented amount of oil dispersants was applied, the effects of oil dispersants on desorption of field aged oil remain unknown. This study aimed to investigate the abundance, distributions and physico-chemical availability of the oil retained in Bay Jimmy sediment, Louisiana, five years after the DwH oil spill, and to determine the effects of two model oil dispersants on the desorption potential of the residual oil. Total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPHs), n-alkanes and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the sediment were analyzed and compared with those in the crude oil and the pre-DwH levels, and batch desorption kinetic tests were carried out to quantify the dispersant effects on the desorption rate and extent. The biomarker hopanes profile and diagnostic ratio were analyzed, which confirmed the origin and persistence of the sediment-retained oil. After five-year natural weathering, the oil level in the sediment remained orders of magnitude higher than the pre-spill level. Nearly all low-molecular-weight n-alkanes and 2-ring PAHs had been degraded. Oil dispersants, SPC 1000 and Corexit EC9500A, were able to enhance solubilization of the sediment-retained oil upon resuspension of the sediment. Successive desorption experiments indicated that 71.6% of TPHs, 74.8% of n-alkanes, and 91.9% of PAHs in the sediment remained highly stable and hardly desorbable by seawater; yet, addition of 18mg/L of SPC 1000 enhanced the desorption and lowered these fractions to 57.3%, 68.1%, and 81.4%, respectively. The findings are important for understanding the natural weathering rate and persistence of oil residual and the effects of dispersants on the physical and biological availabilities of aged oil in coastal sediments.

DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.09.234

Cite this paper

@article{Duan2017StudyOR, title={Study of residual oil in Bay Jimmy sediment 5 years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: Persistence of sediment retained oil hydrocarbons and effect of dispersants on desorption.}, author={Jun Duan and Wen Liu and Xiao Zhao and Yuling Han and Susan E O'reilly and Dongye Zhao}, journal={The Science of the total environment}, year={2017} }