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Contamination of the Bay of Biscay by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) following the T/V “Erika” oil spill

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 October 2004

Jacek Tronczyński
Affiliation:
Ifremer, Département des polluants chimiques, rue de l'Ile d'Yeu, BP 21105, 44311 Nantes Cedex 03, France
Catherine Munschy
Affiliation:
Ifremer, Département des polluants chimiques, rue de l'Ile d'Yeu, BP 21105, 44311 Nantes Cedex 03, France
Karine Héas-Moisan
Affiliation:
Ifremer, Département des polluants chimiques, rue de l'Ile d'Yeu, BP 21105, 44311 Nantes Cedex 03, France
Nadège Guiot
Affiliation:
Ifremer, Département des polluants chimiques, rue de l'Ile d'Yeu, BP 21105, 44311 Nantes Cedex 03, France
Isabelle Truquet
Affiliation:
Ifremer, Département des polluants chimiques, rue de l'Ile d'Yeu, BP 21105, 44311 Nantes Cedex 03, France
Nathalie Olivier
Affiliation:
Ifremer, Département des polluants chimiques, rue de l'Ile d'Yeu, BP 21105, 44311 Nantes Cedex 03, France
Sophie Men
Affiliation:
Ifremer, Département des polluants chimiques, rue de l'Ile d'Yeu, BP 21105, 44311 Nantes Cedex 03, France
Audrey Furaut
Affiliation:
Ifremer, Département des polluants chimiques, rue de l'Ile d'Yeu, BP 21105, 44311 Nantes Cedex 03, France
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Abstract

An investigation was carried out into the PAH chemical contamination resulting from the “Erika” tanker fuel spillage of December 1999 along the French coast of the Bay of Biscay. A qualitative and quantitative assessment was conducted of this contamination in water, suspended particulate matter, sediments, and in intertidal molluscs. The chemical composition of PAHs in pre-spill and post-spill samples was determined and used to distinguish the “Erika's” fuel as the source of PAHs in the coastal environment of the Bay of Biscay. Changes in concentrations of PAHs were also assessed. The GC-MS analysis made it possible to identify and quantify parent unsubstituted PAHs, alkyl-substituted PAHs (C-PAH) and sulfur heterocycle unsubstituted and alkyl substituted compounds (SPAH and C-SPAH). The results of this study demonstrated that heavily oil-contaminated shorelines, including beaches, rocky coasts as well as sandy sediments apparently became reservoirs of spilled fuel and these continued to contaminate seawater, suspended particulate matter and mussels with PAHs. These conclusions were borne out by the following observations: (1) the pattern changes in PAH composition after the “Erika” oil spill were consistent in all contaminated compartments (water, suspended particulate matter SPM, intertidal sediments and molluscs), (2) the compositional patterns of PAHs after the “Erika” oil spill in contaminated water, SPM, intertidal sediments and molluscs constantly included alkyl-substituted phenanthrenes, pyrenes, chrysenes and sulfur heterocycle compounds in higher relative abundances than those in the pre-spill samples of these compartments, (3) the relative abundances of different suites of PAHs at contaminated sites were similar to those of weathered “Erika” fuel, (4) consistent and visible temporal decline in concentrations for water, SPM and molluscs, (5) the geographical contiguity of the stations with high concentrations of PAHs in molluscs matched the extent of the shoreline contamination by the spilled fuel. The increase in the contamination levels before and after the spill, together with the significant change in the pattern of PAH composition provide evidence of the intense and long-term chemical contamination of the “Erika's” fuel and of the damage to natural marine resources resulting from such contamination by toxic oil components.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© EDP Sciences, IFREMER, IRD, 2004

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