Emissions from in situ burning of crude oil in the arctic

Research paper by Thomas Day, Donald Mackay, Stuart Nadeau, Robert Thurier

Indexed on: 01 Feb '79Published on: 01 Feb '79Published in: Water, Air, & Soil Pollution


The results of an exploratory study of the effects of in situ crude oil spill burning on air quality in the Beaufort Sea region of the Arctic are presented. A scenario is postulated defining the amounts of oil released, the size and number of burnable oil pools, and the duration of the burning period. Estimates are made of the likely emissions of soot, CO, SO2 and metals based on literature and some experimental work. Assumptions are made about plume rise and dispersion which permit downwind concentrations of emissions to be calculated and compared with air quality objectives. Although the calculated concentrations may contain significant error because of the many assumptions, it is believed that the data demonstrate that concentrations of SO2 and CO will be acceptably low, concentrations of soot and metals will often be undesirably high within 10 km of the fires, but will be acceptably low at greater distances. It is concluded that burning may be a method of substantially reducing the adverse environmental impact of oil spills in the Arctic.