Appl. Chem., Vol. 71,
No. 1, pp. 83-93, 1999
The Interaction of Fine Particles
with Stranded Oil
Edward H. Owens
Owens Coastal Consultants Ltd.
755 Winslow Way East, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110, USA
Abstract: The interaction of micron-sized mineral particles
with stranded oil reduces its adhesion to solid surfaces, such as sediments
or bedrock. The net result is the formation of stable, micron-sized,
oil droplets that disperse into the water column. In turn, the increase
in surface area makes the oil more available for biodegradation. Oil
and Fine-particle Interaction ("OFI") can explain how oiled shorelines
are cleaned naturally in the absence of wave action in very sheltered
coastal environments. Fine-particle interaction can be accelerated during
a spill response by relocating the oiled sediments into the surf zone.
This has been achieved successfully on two occasions to date: the Tampa
Bay response in Florida, and the Sea Empress operation in Wales.
Sediment relocation also causes physical abrasion by the hydraulic action
of waves so that the processes of fine-particle interaction and surf
washing usually occur in combination on open coasts.
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