Science

Oil-destroying organisms found in the Arctic
Scientists of the Murmansk region have found microorganisms in the Arctic that can destroy oil. This was reported in the Kola scientific center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, where research is being conducted in this direction in the framework of the project "Bioremediation of the Arctic coast". The project belongs to the Kolarctic cross-border cooperation program, in which Russia and the Scandinavian countries participate.
Researchers in the laboratory evaluated how various microorganisms destroy oil in seawater, coastal sand, and soil contaminated with a water-oil emulsion made from medium, light, and heavy oil. The experiment lasted three months. - The harsh climate of the Far North in many ways makes it difficult to restore ecosystems, so the focus is on local species of microorganisms adapted to life in the North, - said the Institute of industrial ecology of the North of the KNC RAS. - It turned out that the water-oil emulsion is non-toxic for microorganisms that can oxidize hydrocarbons, and even to some extent stimulates their development. The best result was obtained by biological treatment of coastal sand contaminated with heavy oil, using fungi of the genus Penicillium. The study showed that cleaning of coastal sand contaminated with oil-water emulsion with the help of microorganisms allowed to accelerate the degradation of petroleum hydrocarbons by seven to ten percent. In addition, scientists have found that different strains of "anti-oil" microorganisms do not have a depressing effect on each other. This means that they can be used together to control oil pollution. Research continues. At the next stage of work, scientists intend to use mineral and organic sorbents together with biologics to improve the efficiency of cleaning the natural environment from oil. By the way, similar experiments have already been conducted before and were crowned with success. For example, a sorbent was developed that can grow microflora that destroys petroleum products. As a source of this microflora, the active silt of the stations of biochemical treatment of urban wastewater was used. Thanks to this sorbent, scientists were able to double the rate of destruction of the most toxic volatile fractions of oil. The development experienced at the tank farm of the village of liinakhamari. Studies have shown that with the help of the developed sorbent, soil purification from oil pollution reaches 65-70 percent in two months. These works are of great importance, which will increase with the development of the Arctic, RAS academician Mikhail flint is convinced. - Few people remember that in 1991, during the war in the Persian Gulf, the largest oil spill disaster occurred, - the scientist notes. - And they don't remember it because there are few consequences left from it: in those latitudes, the warm climate accelerates all processes, including the decomposition of oil. Everything is quickly processed and disposed of naturally. In the Arctic, everything is different. In 1989, the Exxon Valdez tanker disaster occurred off the coast of Alaska. The spill was generally, I would say, below average. But even now in those places you can see the remains of oil spilled thirty years ago.
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