Federal scientists at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (Nova Scotia) are studying the behaviour of diluted bitumen from the Alberta oil sands when it spills into the ocean.
They’re finding it poses real challenges for any cleanup. “It is to a certain degree tougher to work with than conventional oil,” says Thomas King of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Industry wants to move more oil sands petroleum by tanker, pipeline and rail, but little was known about its behaviour in a spill. Research so far shows a bitumen spill is treatable provided there is a rapid response. Chemical dispersants have been found to be less effective on diluted bitumen than conventional oil.
“When it begins to sink it becomes more troublesome. We have to figure out ways to track, monitor and remediate sinking oil,” King says.
(Source and more information: CBC)