Accession Number:



The West Falmouth Oil Spill

Descriptive Note:

Technical rept.

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A spill of 650,000-700,000 liters of number 2 fuel oil has contaminated the coastal areas of Buzzards Bay, Mass. The report summarizes the results of a continuing chemical and biological study which were available more than eight months after the accident. The effects of environmental exposure on the composition of the oil are discussed many analytical parameters are sufficiently stable to permit continued correlation of the oil remaining in sediments and organisms with the fuel oil involved in the spill. Oil from the spill is still present in the sediments, inshore and offshore and in the shellfish. A further spread of the pollution to more distant offshore regions has occurred during mid-winter as a result, the pollution now covers a much larger area than immediately after the accident. The first stages of biological presumably bacterial degradation of the oil are now evident especially in the least polluted regions however, it has depleted predominantly the straight and branched chain alkanes. The more toxic aromatic hydrocarbons are resistant as a result, the toxicity of the oil has not been diminished. Where oil can be detected in the sediments there has been a kill of animals in the most polluted areas the kill has been almost total. Shellfish that survived the accident have taken up the fuel oil. The 1970 crop of shellfish is as heavily polluted as was last years crop. Oysters transplanted to unpolluted water for as long as 6 months retained the oil without chance in composition or concentration.

Subject Categories:

  • Biological Oceanography
  • Water Pollution and Control

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