Remove oil from contaminated peatlands
Overall effectiveness category No evidence found (no assessment)
Number of studies: 0
Background information and definitions
Peatlands may be affected by oil spills. North American peatlands are particularly vulnerable to oil spills from pipelines or wells: oil is extracted from large reserves in Alaska and Alberta, then transported long distances over peatlands. Spontaneous vegetation recovery following oil spills can be slow (Racine 1994). Interventions to remove oil, or increase microbial activity to break down oil more rapidly, include washing, burning, tillage, aeration and fertilization (Jorgenson & Joyce 1994; ExxonMobil 2008). Historical oil spills, such as those from wrecked military vehicles (Ardron 2013), may be harder or impossible to clean.
Caution: Interventions to clean up oil spills could kill any surviving vegetation and/or churn oil into the peat, hindering long term recovery in some situations.
Key peatland types where this action may be appropriate: bogs, fens/fen meadows, tropical peat swamps.
Ardron P.A. (2013) Impacts of conflict and war on peatland landscapes. Pages 221–231 in: I.D. Rotherham & C. Handley (eds.) War & Peat. Wildtrack Publishing, Sheffield.
ExxonMobil (2008) Oil Spill Response Field Manual. ExxonMobil, USA.
Jorgenson M.T. & Joyce M.R. (1994) Six strategies for rehabilitating land disturbed by oil development in arctic Alaska. Arctic, 47, 374–390.
Racine C.H. (1994) Long-term recovery of vegetation on two experimental crude oil spills in interior Alaska black spruce taiga. Canadian Journal of Botany, 72, 1171–1177.