Planning n Mitigation | VOL. 11, ISSUE 64, January-February 2011

Bioremediation: Treating oil spills biologically

Sixty per cent of the millions of barrels of oil consumed per day world over, reach stipulated destinations through the sea. In the event of an oil spill over water, a floating oil slick of about 1 mm thickness is initially formed on the surface. With time the slick thins out and spreads, aided by the wind, waves, currents and weather conditions. The lack of a fixed boundary and the constant motion of the surface make the task of treating spills over water with bioremediation far more challenging than treating those on land. Despite great care, precautions and stringent norms, spills continue to occur. The need of the hour is effective ways in which to treat the spills. Methods used on land are different from those used over water. On water - a spill may be left to the sun, waves and weather action, ultimately resulting in the evaporation of the oil; containment and skimming techniques may be used; sorbents may be used to absorb the oil; in situ burning can be done for spills away from coastal settlements and dispersants can be used to chemically break down oils. It is to be understood here that all these methods have their own specific challenges and/or side effects. [caption id="attachment_3660" align="aligncenter" width="827"] Table 1: Major genera of oil degrading bacteria and fungi Source: G D Floodgate,...

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