A study to characterize and source hydrocarbon contamination of sediments and scallops in the Port-au-Port Bay, NL

Lay Summary 

In 2013 the scallop fishery in the Port-au-Port Bay area in NL collapsed. There are many possible factors that may have contributed to this collapse. This study proposes to investigate the potential of hydrocarbon contamination of the sediments and scallops. Local accounts have reported over 13 potential hydrocarbon contamination point sources including abandoned oil drilling sites, abandoned dumps and oil tanks that appear to be leaking substances into the environment on land as well as into the bay. This study requests initial funds to collect and analyze a subset of samples to begin to identify and characterize the hydrocarbon components of two hydrocarbon source areas, characterize recent historical contamination using sediment cores, and analyze scallops for petroleum hydrocarbon contamination. Novel molecular-level 14C analysis will be combined with traditional chemical fingerprinting methods for this research.

There are 4 objectives for this research:
Objective 1 - in the field, locate, map, and sample hydrocarbon point-sources, scallops, sediments from both contaminated and near-by uncontaminated areas;
Objective 2 - determine fate of hydrocarbon contamination by chemically characterizing contaminated and uncontaminated samples;
Objective 3 - determine temporal changes by chemically characterizing and dating sediment cores; and
Objective 4 - extract scallops and shells for petroleum contaminants, and petroleum contamination metabolites.

Earth Sciences
Harris Centre Applied Research Fund
Port au Port
Newfoundland and Labrador
Oil and Gas Industry
Environmental Impact
Shellfish Fisheries
Industry Sectors 
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
Start date 
1 Sep 2014
End date 
31 Dec 2015