Indexed on: 13 Jun '15Published on: 13 Jun '15Published in: Environmental Science and Pollution Research
The present study aimed to examine whether the use of dispersant would be suitable for favoring the hydrocarbon degradation in coastal marine sediments without impacting negatively micro- and macrobenthic organisms. Mudflat sediments, maintained during 286 days in mesocosms designed to simulate natural conditions, were contaminated or not with Ural blend crude oil (REBCO) and treated or not with third-generation dispersant (Finasol OSR52). While the dispersant did not lead to an increase of hydrocarbon biodegradation, its use enables an attenuation of more than 55 % of the sediment concentration of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH). Canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) correlating T-RFLP patterns with the hydrocarbon content and bacterial abundance indicated weak differences between the different treatments except for the mesocosm treated with oil and dispersant for which a higher bacterial biomass was observed. The use of the dispersant did not significantly decrease the macrobenthic species richness or macroorganisms' densities in uncontaminated or contaminated conditions. However, even if the structure of the macrobenthic communities was not affected, when used in combination with oil, biological sediment reworking coefficient was negatively impacted. Although the use of the dispersant may be worth considering in order to accelerate the attenuation of hydrocarbon-contaminated mudflat sediments, long-term effects on functional aspects of the benthic system such as bioturbation and bacterial activity should be carefully studied before.