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Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Persistence and Chemistry Projects:
Oiled Beach Clean-Up, 1997

  picture of oil on PWS beach

Principal Investigators:

Stanley D. Rice
(907) 789-6020

Jeffrey W. Short
(907) 789-6065

*New Publication:
Brodersen, C., J. Short, L. Holland, M. Carls,
J. Pella, M. Larsen, and S. Rice. 1999.
Evaluation of oil removal from beaches 8 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Proceedings of the Twenty-second Arctic and Marine Oil spill Program (AMOP) Technical Seminar, Environment Canada, Ottawa, Ont. pp. 325-336.

View Poster:  Beach Clean-up

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Five cobble-boulder armored shoreline segments in the vicinity of the village of Chenega Bay in Prince William Sound were treated in the summer of 1997 to reduce levels of residual oil from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.

The treatment involves injecting a d-limonene-based cleaning agent (PES-51) into beach substrates using an air knife to free residual oil, followed by ambient temperature seawater flushing and collecting the oil and cleaning agent mixture with standard oil spill recovery techniques. Treatment was completed over a 33-day period; 9,490 square meters were treated producing a total of 20,007 pounds of oiled sorbent materials.

Visual observations and physical measurements show removal of 50% of the surface oil in 1997. However, rearrangement of boulders by winter storms thoroughly altered the parts of the beach where oil was uncovered and available for either sampling or cleaning. This implies that much less than 50% of the total oil entrained in these beaches was removed.

No major damage to intertidal biota was observed. Beach mussels took up significant levels of oil and d-limonene, and mussels moored in the water column outside cleaning operations took up traces, but all mussels had depurated oil by September 1997.


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