Although the ocean has responses which act to disperse pollutants, these mechanisms act over long periods of time. Crude oil released to the sea fractionates, and the lighter oils separate from the heavier crude and spread in a thin layer, while the heavier oil, greases, and waxes remain concentrated in thick patches which shrink from evaporation and absorption, getting denser and harder until they become solid, brittle tar balls. The more volatile components begin to evaporate and to be absorbed in the water. The oil also changes chemically when exposed to the sun and to UV light (photochemical oxidation). Some 70 species of marine bacteria and certain yeasts consume oil. Eventually, the oil completely disperses, degrades, and disappears. The use of petrophilic bacteria is discussed. General Electric has combined the digestive capabilities of 4 different hydrocarbon-consuming bacteria into a single manmade strain capable of processing approximately 2/3 of the hydrocarbons involved in an oil spill, at a rate several times faster than any natural organism. A mixed culture of several strains of bacteria have also been developed that can be stored indefinitely as a dried powder.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Thomson Publications South Africa Proprietary Ltd

    P.O. Box 8308
    2000 Johannesburg,   South Africa 
  • Authors:
    • Hull, EWS
  • Publication Date: 1979-7

Media Info

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00316690
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Pollution Abstracts
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Sep 16 1980 12:00AM