SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1984

Experimental Use of Dispersants for Spill Countermeasures on Arctic Beaches


Field experiments have been conducted on arctic beaches to assess the effectiveness of dispersants for the cleanup of stranded oil. The application of two commercially available chemical dispersants to aged and emulsified oil plots, in the intertidal zone on a semi-sheltered beach, resulted in a significant reduction of oil loadings immediately following the experiment as compared to loadings on adjacent intertidal control plots. The use of dispersants may, therefore, be of some value in mitigation of the potential adverse effects of oil immediately following stranding. In the semi-sheltered arctic environment in which the 1981 experiments were conducted (fetch up to 100 km; two-month open-water season), natural reworking of the oiled intertidal control plots over a 40-day period was effective in removing approximately 85 to 95% of the original oil loading. Further experiments in 1982 replicated the 1981 study in a more sheltered location, with a fetch area of less than 2 km, and indicate that the use of dispersants was not effective in this very low-energy environment. The conclusions drawn from this arctic experiment have a direct relevance to other coastal environments in lower latitudes.

Author Information

Owens, EH
Foget, CR
Robson, W
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Developed by Committee: F20
Pages: 324–337
DOI: 10.1520/STP30244S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-4906-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-0400-6